Bookstore expands textbooks and eBook rental policy

The Mercyhurst Bookstore is expanding and improving its textbook rental service.

Mercyhurst and its partner Follet have updated computer systems and their business models. The goal is to make it easier to rent textbooks across multiple devices and allows students to save money on books needed for their classes.

“There was a push across the country to help independent stores like us,” Mercyhurst University Bookstore General Manager Daniel Cullen said.

Now, students will be able to rent books online through the Mercyhurst Bookstore, receive reminders as the end of the term approaches and bring all books back to the buy back counter.

“You’re so stressed during exams, you can just bring all your books to the buyback counter and our computer program can sort out which were rented,” Cullen said.

Cullen said students previously would have to sort out which books were rented and which they were looking to sell back and wait in separate lines for each.

“When the idea first came out a lot the industry knee-jerked towards it,” said Cullen. “I learned a long time ago not to knee-jerk. It was just too new and it became an accounting nightmare.”

The new system and Follet business model have changed the previous hesitancy to increase the capability of renting textbooks.

“There is no risk to us and no risk to the students. You’re happy and we’re happy,” Cullen said.

Comparable to Chegg or Amazon, students also save money by avoiding the postage required to mail back a book.

“I try to keep the prices below Amazon as best I can. We walk a fine line. We service the students but we can’t lose our shirts in the process,” Cullen said.

Cullen is working to provide as many of those options as possible through the bookstore and keep them affordable for students.

“Students want options and we try to provide as many of those options as we can,” Cullen said.

Additionally, digital books are increasing in availability. The Mercyhurst Bookstore will be offering more digital books in upcoming years.

“I would be interested in using eBooks. They seem more convenient,” junior Kayley Morrison said.

Offering textbooks in the form of eBooks is an expanding business model among large publishing companies.

“All major publishers are doing it,” said Cullen. “It’s another option for students. Students have an access code printed on their receipt and that’s all they need.”

Students can highlight, underline and even save answers to the review questions in the online versions that can be accessed on their computers, tablets or smartphones.

“Kids still need books, they just don’t want to pay for them,” Cullen said.