September 15, 2010, 1:39 PM

Follett rolls out its web and store textbook rental program

More than 1.1 million books have been rented under the new Rent-A-Text program.

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Follett Higher Education Group this fall rolled out a textbook rental program, Rent-A-Text, online and in more than 750 bookstores it operates on behalf of universities and schools nationwide, with more than 1.1 million books rented thus far under the program. More than three million textbooks in Follett’s campus bookstores are available for rent.

Prior to Rent-A-Text, college students had the choice to purchase new and used textbooks online at individual campus e-commerce sites managed by Follett or use CafeScribe, the company’s electronic book sales and social networking platform. Follett estimates Rent-A-Text will reach approximately five million college students, and will save students more than $130 million in the 2010-2011 academic year.

Follett, No. 55 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide says it invested more $120 million in the textbook rental program

“This is a tremendous endeavor,” says Tom Christopher, president of Follett Higher Education Group. “Creating new textbook choices for students is a core part of our mission."

The rental program accepts multiple forms of payment, including financial aid and campus payment cards. Students can complete the entire transaction online or opt to pick up and return textbooks in the campus store, a Follett spokesman says. The program also allows students to highlight and take notes in the books as part of the normal wear and tear associated with course work. Students have the option of purchasing the text book during the rental term.

The textbook rental program is part of Follett’s strategy of building new systems in multiple sales channels to give students greater access and more flexibility in renting textbooks, says Christopher.  Follett’s The Virtual Bookstores program are customized textbook rental sites that are branded with a school’s logo and colors.

CafeScribe, the company’s e-textbook platform, contains more than 10,000 widely used textbooks. More than 100,000 students use CafeScribe.

The company has launched a pilot text book rental program in six Follett of Canada stores this year.

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