Case Study: University of California-Davis

Jason Lorgan, associate director at the UC Davis Stores, knew textbook rental was important but worried it might affect his store's margin. However, after implementing a program, he realized that it actually provides incredible benefits to his store's bottom line. In fact, rental is now available on an average of 75% of the store's 1,600 titles each quarter.

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UC Davis Stores Overcomes the Fear of Rental

Lorgan was initially apprehensive about textbook rental

Like many in the industry Jason Lorgan, associate director at the UC Davis Stores, was hesitant to jump into the unknown and implement a rental program for fear of extra work and less revenue. Feeling significant pressure from student groups to reduce the price of textbooks, however, the store started to explore the rental idea further.

After considering the options, he chose to implement MBS Rental because it not only pays more than any other program in the industry, but also allows the store to significantly lower prices for students. "MBS looks at the booklist on a case-by-case basis," he explained, "which allows them to approve so many more titles."

Once implementing a program, he realized his worries were much worse than the reality

Since implementing the program, the store has realized the true potential of rental. In the fall of 2010, the UC Davis Stores rented 8,000 units consisting of 246 available titles. At its peak, UC Davis hit 45,000 rentals.

The success of the program set Lorgan's rental worries to rest.

Rentals remain one of the most important components of our textbook affordability goals. It allows students in courses using print books to find a much lower cost option to consider. With price comparison on our inSite textbook eCommerce pages, rental often allows our store to be shown as having the single lowest price option in the market.

— Jason Lorgan

Unlike many other programs, MBS Rental is not an exclusive program. This means that while MBS handles the largest volume of rentals for Lorgan, UC Davis Stores is also able to supplement its rentals by working with eight vendors to provide rental rebates on campus.

Feedback towards rental was overwhelmingly positive

Even better, his store is able to make the same amount while meeting the needs of all types of students. "The rental program brought lower prices back to the bookstore, which was a big relief for students and professors, alike," he said. "Even though we drastically reduced prices, our store maintained the same margin. Now we can give students the options they deserve, and let them decide."

The student response at UC Davis has been just as positive. "We had students upset because they couldn't rent all of their books," Lorgan explained. Despite some inevitable skepticism and confusion because rental is still new, the store saw many students diving right in and showing an obvious interest in the program.

Lorgan now suggests that all stores offer rental

Through the experience, Lorgan has realized that the hardest part of initiating a new rental program is getting over the initial skepticism. "The rental program is so new," he explained. "So, the fear of rental is much more than the actual reality. It's nowhere near as bad as we thought it would be!"

About University of California:

  • FTE: 32,300
  • Operates six retail locations and an off campus warehouse
  • Rental program has become one of the largest in the U.S., peaking at 45,000 rentals
  • 40% of the store's total titles are rentals

About MBS Rental:

  • Most competitive rebate program in the industry
  • No contracts or agreements
  • Students rent online or in-store
  • Purchase inventory from any source
  • Set your own rental prices
  • Unlimited quantities means no worry about renting over the guaranteed amount