Zookal Joins Aussie Textbook Rental Market

Zookal Joins Aussie Textbook Rental Market

When we rounded up ways to save money on university textbooks last week, one option that we didn’t look at is textbook rentals. That’s a growing segment of the market in the US, and it’s looking increasingly competitive in Australia.

Reader Chris alerted us to the recent launch of Zookal, which is offering textbook rentals based on the book lists of most of the major universities in Sydney (plus the University of Western Australia.) And commenter Chris pointed out the existence of Unidbooks, which offers a similar service.

As a non-student, I don’t think I’m in a position to realistically assess the value of either of these options, though some of the pricing (upwards of 50% of the new selling price) seems a little high to me. If you like the idea or think it’s lame, we’d love to hear why in the comments.




  • Why bother when, with a little bit of forward planning, you can get many texts from o/s for not much more than their prices and still sell it at the end of the year?

  • What a terrible idea, it’s so expensive and then you have to return it.

    Better to just buy online. If your prepared to use a second hand textbook (i.e. you were planning to rent) you can buy online second-hand for less than the cost of renting from this website.

    How will this business survive?

  • well I suppose chegg in America (currently valued at over USD 1 billion) rents out at around 60% so obviously there is demand somewhere, it definitely cuts out the hassle. As far as I can tell this site averages around 45% of retail price,and when lines are out the door of coop who sell at 100% for most their books (not for profit?) why not rent?

    • buying a second-hand book online is no more hassle than renting a book online, but there is the added “hassle” of being charged if you accidently ruin the book (as happened to me when my cat spilt a cup of water over a textbook).

      I can’t understand how the american site you mentioned is successful, perhaps just good marketing. I mean you can “rent” textbooks from your university library for free!

      If someone can explain to me the logic behind spending money to hire a book you could _buy_ for significantly less than the hire price, i would be impressed.

  • haha dude you gotta be kidding me?

    chegg is a billion dollar company and bookrenter.com just raised $75million.. somebody somewhere is renting books. ur just missing the savings.

  • Hi – The Campus Bookstore at Monash University Caulfield Campus have been renting text books for a while now – First in Australia and they really do a great job – YOU MUST BE REALLY CAREFULL of other companies claiming to rent you books – they do – BUT they are international version from South East Asia or India and are not compliant to many courses – My friend was told by his lecturer to get rid of his dodgy copy of Kotler he rented as it was just not the right version – Be Carefull – the guys at The Campus Bookstore walk you through in person and I saved over $500 – Thanks

  • Hey Simon,

    Thanks for your input. All our books from Zookal are from brand new or near new quality and direct from the Australian distributors. Hope this was helpful.

    • Sorry – But a quick look at your website ie: “Kotler” does not show the current edition – as with many others ie: Law in Commerce. In fact all current prescribed text book edition on your site do not even look like AU Editions – Back to my comment about being careful and a reminder to anyone bringing in books from overseas to sell or rent – IT IS ILLEGAL! – Keep and eye on this site and it has been reported to the publishers from my understanding by ACBA

      • Again Simon you are wrong it’s quite obvious that you work for the coop and don’t want students to save money.

        Our distributors are direct from the publishers the exact same guys that supply coop. United Book Distributors, McGraw-Hill education Australia, etc…

        We have a variety of texts available on the website just because they “don’t look like” Australian editions to you doesn’t mean they aren’t.

        We’ve had lots of very satisfied customers who are now enjoying their AUSTRALIAN EDITION books with no complaints.

        I’m sorry were going to destroy your business and save students a tonne of money.

        Good luck getting a job elsewhere.

      • Does that mean the textbook industry is government protected? Why, if the publishers are truly competitive with their pricing, would it be illegal to import?

  • its interesting, i buy and sell my books, usually i get around 60% of the price back soooo say i buy at $100 and get $60 back that means im paying $40 for the book for my semester – IF I CAN SELL IT! which sucks has anyone ever tried to used text book exchange – what a mess
    i saw this article and rented this semester cost me $30 for my book, and the quality seems good! thanks Zookal 🙂

  • Simon is right: The books on Zookal look like imports / printed in India or Indonesia and also probably do not come with the associated study guides: Also what do they do once the web link key is used?

    I too rented books from the Bookshop at Monash Caulfield in Victoria – Got all my books (4) for one semester (and LEGAL) at 48% brand new of the full price.

    • Again it’s quite obvious you work for the Bookshop, and are assuming that our books are not Australian edition which they all are.

      Don’t be scared of competition; don’t make up facts about us because you’re scared you’ll lose your job.

      Let the students decide. We’ve had many satisfied customers and all our books are LEGAL and Bought directly from AUSTRALIAN PUBLISHERS.

      I’m sure you can find a job elsewhere once students realise the quality of our books (which are all AUSTRALIAN EDITION) and the money they’ll be saving with zookal.


      • Ahmed – WOW! you are quite angry – However, I am a student (Post Grad and currently writing a paper on Parallel Importation of Books)

        I DO NOT WORK for a bookstore and I am currently working so that clears up your comments – and aggression

        Can you answer these then please:

        (Q1)The publishers do not want rental books in the market (that is a given) so how can you say you are supported by them. I understand they have a Tier system for booksellers and you will certainly not be on Tier One – if you are then there is something very suspicious:

        (Q2) Microeconomics (Hubbard & Garnett) if you are renting this as an example how do you compensate the second person who rents this as the study guide that in an on line application can only be used once – The person who rents it for the second time will have to pay $30:00 to get access????

        (Q3) Your advertised editions on various text are not the current edition ie: you advertise Kotler 4th Ed – but it is up to the 8th Ed now???

        (Q4) Do you allow highlighting and writing?

        Sorry but your company is also not aligned with Chegg in the states – I made enquiries and they do not have any affiliate in the Asia / Pacific region – and if you were your site would contain current editions with AU covers and hold all prescribed text for rent.

        Back to work I go – and off to anger management classes for your good self.

        • Apologies if my comments came across as angry =) it’s just very frustrating when you’ve worked so hard to ensure that everything is above board to be defamed by being accused of “parallel importing” when we are not.

          I am an undergraduate student as is everyone else in the company. We were sick of paying too much for books so we started this company to help students.

          Please re-read my posts I never said we were aligned with any other textbook rental company in the u.s or elsewhere? So dont know where that came from.

          Q1) we never said we were supported by them? They just supply us.
          Q2) we don’t promise any study guides or supplementary material – u mentioned u rented books from your local bookshop how did you deal with this?
          Q3) all the texts for the universities we support are current edition and brand new – we have also have a program where we rent out books for students that’s where some of the older editions come from there is no compulsion for students to rent them
          Q4) Students are allowed to highlight and write in pencil (just not excessively)

          Hope this was helpful and best of luck with your studies if i can be of any further assistance please feel free to email me.


  • Hey Angus – check out The CampusBookstore now – they have the rentals on line this semester! and they are real Aussie versions of the books too! – NOT ILLEGAL IMPORTS or someone else’s used book – they are new

  • Ahmed I think your business has a reasonable idea. As a recent graduate from university in Sydney, I support your idea and really understand where your ideas are coming from. I used to pay just way too much for my textbooks in my uni years. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only uni students who thought that we are paying too much for textbooks.

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