January 20, 2010, 12:00 AM

Follett plans to expand its web and store textbook rental program

Follett Higher Education Group plans to extend its trial textbook rental program to 850 of its college campus bookstores. The program enables students and faculty to order textbooks online at eFollett.com and pick them up in a store.

Follett Higher Education Group plans to extend its trial textbook rental program to 850 of its college campus bookstores over the next few school years. The program enables students and faculty to rent textbooks in stores or order them online at eFollett.com and pick them up in a store.

Follett`s textbook rental program, which is expected to reach more than 400 campuses in the 2010 academic year, offers students more than 50% savings on new textbooks as well as a streamlined rental process, the company says. Follett, No. 64 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name), says the program saved students nearly $2 million on their course materials at seven pilot schools in one term alone. There are now 27 schools participating in Follett`s pilot rental program, which launched in fall 2009. Names of the schools will be made available this spring, Follett says.

The rental program accepts multiple forms of payment, including financial aid and campus payment cards, offers an option to buy the textbook during the rental term if a student decides to keep the book, and allows for the normal wear and tear associated with coursework, including freedom to highlight and take notes, Follett says.

Follett also is developing its technology services with the rollout of Follett Virtual Bookstores, a business serving elementary and secondary schools with bookstore programs for managing and distributing course materials. The service builds on Follett’s 2008 acquisition of Varsity Group, which had virtual bookstore expertise. Varsity Group and the Follett Express Sales division were combined to form Follett Virtual Bookstores.

The virtual bookstore program gives K-12 schools the option of outsourcing the administrative task of managing textbooks through Follett`s technology platform. The program is designed to leverage Follett`s experience in textbook distribution, school library materials and systems, software applications, and digital products for classrooms and school administration, the company says.

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