Amazon.com has started offering textbook rentals, directly competing with the AU Campus Store.
This rental program helps students cut costs by offering free two-day shipping to all Amazon Student accounts and free return shipping.
Amazon currently features an online market for new and used textbooks, the ability to purchase eBooks and six months of free access to its Amazon Prime account under its Amazon Student section.
“No matter if a student wants to buy or rent their textbooks, Amazon can be their one-stop shop,” said Ripley MacDonald, director of textbooks at Amazon.com.
Ryan Sarafolean, a freshman in the School of International Service, said he agreed.
“I like to own [textbooks], but they [Amazon] find the lowest price,” he said. “Hands down, it’s so easy. It’s like what the school bookstore is doing, but actually cheaper.”
Campus Store Manager Kristi Cole said she sees the situation differently.
“Students are savvy shoppers and the increase of larger online competitors has given them the opportunity to really explore what’s out there and at what price,” she said. “Despite the presence of these competitors, AU students continue to choose the on-campus store or our eFollett.com website for great value and unique service.”
Cole said the connection the Campus Store has with the University and its students will keep customers coming in. The store’s ability to communicate with the professors and the convenience of its location are its best qualities, she said.
The Campus Bookstore has other options available including textbook rentals. eFollett.com has had Rent-a-Text, their version of a rental program, since fall of 2009, allowing them to directly compete with other online vendors in terms of services offered.
However, for some students like Shelby Ostergaard, a School of Communications freshman, the Campus Store’s prices are deterring.
“They are supposed to overcharge,” she said. “It’s thirty dollars for a t-shirt—- how much do you think they are going to charge for a book?”