Book loaning as alternative to purchasing

Alan Duff

For some Lawrentians this term marks the end of their first year at Lawrence, or for our seniors, their final term. Regardless of class standing, I’m sure most of us had to once again pull out our wallets to purchase books, browse through Amazon or hunt down friends who had copies of textbooks needed for spring term.

While attending a university, one inevitably doesn’t have hundreds of dollars lying around after paying tuition — even with scholarships, financial aid and student loans. So paying for books term after term — no matter where a student takes their business — begins to add up.

With the given state of the economy, it can be difficult to pay for books on top of all other college-related costs. Looking at recent consumer trends, however, it is clear that being conservative with spending money has now caught up with most Americans due to the downturn in the economy over the last few years.

This economic recession has resulted in a consumer group that is much more cautious when buying new products, who may also decide to use a rental service like Netflix instead of buying every new season of their favorite TV show.

The trend of loaning and borrowing goods has become much more popular in the last few years, stemming from the classic example of a neighbor in need of a cup of sugar and progressing into the modern age of people pooling their resources in order to borrow exactly what they need.

This new form of borrowing is done using websites that operate on the local level, connecting people who were otherwise strangers. Websites like SnapGoods have appeared that offer peer-to-peer sharing of products at low rental prices, allowing people to borrow expensive items for a short trial period.

In many cases, student textbooks go unused if not sold back to campus bookstores. College campuses need to catch up with the growing trend of borrowing that is already gaining popularity with students online.

Most students at Lawrence would benefit from the creation of a book sharing program that would allow students to borrow books from their peers in an organized and cataloged fashion. An electronic system could be created to show which books students had, but were not being used during a specific term.

While many of us have friends that allow us to borrow their books, it doesn’t always work out that we know someone who has taken a specific math or history course. Even a simple system of trading books could go a long way in saving students money in the long term.

While I’m sure there are some students who would rather keep their books, and that borrowing books will never eliminate buying them, I think that few Lawrentians would begrudge saving hundreds of dollars over our four years of attendance at Lawrence.