eCampus Review – Online Rental Textbooks. Genius!

by Darwin on October 26, 2011

The following is a review of which is a rapidly growing college text book rental business.

Add this one to the list of companies I wish I’d started when I was in college.  Not just because the business is exploding (According to, nearly 1 in 5 of all college textbook purchased online today is a rental. Two years ago, online textbook rentals accounted for just 1% of all sales), but because I spent a fortune on college text books over the years in both undergrad and my MBA.

My Thoughts on the College Textbook Cartel

Based on my personal view of the college text book world, the vast majority of the information taught in colleges could have been from a single revision once every several years.  Sure, some professor somewhere invests time, energy and capital in writing and publishing a college textbook.  But modern calculus was invented over 300 years ago (seriously), and while it’s nice to sprinkle in some present-day examples, we don’t need a new version every year.  It’s ridiculous.  The only reason the cartel goes this route is to try to prevent students from reusing the same used books several years in a row by forcing them into buying new ones.  The reality is though, often times, an extra couple examples or pictures are changed around but the concepts, the language and even many of the problems remain the same, so students get by with older books even though the professor starts off day 1 telling them they need the latest version.  Aside from that, even with a new revision every year, there are two semesters!  So, ample opportunity exists to rent your books each year either way!  Personally, I don’t know why anyone would buy a textbook new unless they had no other choice.  The depreciation is worse than the day you drive a new car off the lot and you’ll never use the book again after you graduate, trust me.
Why Makes Sense

That’s where eCampus comes in.  It’s tough to believe, but the college textbook industry is an $11 Billion business annually, with 25% of sales occurring online.  And the rental portion is booming.  Since it’s often tough to find that used textbook at the local university bookstore and the online booksellers have massive inventory, you’re virtually assured to find what you need quickly.  Used textbooks are often priced at 35% of the new price.  Aside from the financial savings, there’s even the time savings!  I remember what a hassle it was trucking down to the bookstore in a bus, tracking down the books I needed, standing in line, and then lugging them back.  With online rentals, the books are delivered right to your door!  So, you’re saving money, saving time and well, saving a tree :>

If you have reservations about just renting a book instead of buying new, do this.  Poll 10 college graduates you know.  I can guarantee you that most, if not all, will tell you that they have never used their textbooks for anything after they graduated.  I’ve saved dozens of Engineering and MBA books and I can honestly say I’ve NEVER gone back to use one.  These days, you pretty much learn everything on the job, computer programs perform calculations for us or you can find whatever it is you were looking for on the web.  Frankly, I’m surprised colleges still rely on paper books as heavily as they do given the digital revolution.  But while we’re still living in an era of $150 college textbooks, fear not having an empty bookshelf when you graduate.  It’s the diploma that matters, not the books on your shelf!

If the online purchase/rental option is appealing to you, or even if you want to unload your unwanted textbooks, check out eCampus.  They’re a jack of all trades delivering a nifty option for cash-strapped college students.


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