Rent-a-Book: Read, Recycle, Repeat

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The Annapolis Bookstore's new "Rent-a-Book" program is a "win-win situation" that has drawn "phenomenal interest," said co-owner Mary Adams. "It is definitely a good recession strategy. We are all looking for bargains, and we still want the luxury of a new book."

Adams explained Rent-a-Book this way: "Basically, when customers buy a new book, read it, and return it, we give them one-third of the original purchase price toward another new book if they return it in readable condition." Rent-a-Book is a new name for an old practice – buying back books and offering credit for them – but recasting the concept has been a draw for the Maryland bookstore.

The program launched just recently, but already Adams has seen benefits. "Customers are buying new books that they may have been hesitant about because they know that they can apply a portion of the purchase price toward another new book. If they don't bring the book back, we have had a full-price sale that we probably would not have had otherwise."

The benefits continue, she added: If a customer does bring back a book, Annapolis can offer that book at a discount to another customer who might not have bought it at full price. Plus, the customer returning with the credit toward another new book "will possibly buy something else – another book, journal, card, etc.," while they're in the store. And, she said, "They will also tell their friends about our Rent-a-Book Program."

"Renting" books means customers who don't want a lot of stuff can keep their shelves lean, said Adams. "So many of our customers love to read new books, but don't need another book on their bookshelves. This allows them to purchase a new book without feeling guilty."

Another bonus is that it's a green transaction. "Customers are actively recycling books," she said, "and we are able to sell these books at a used book price."