Universities in Montreal are testing out a new rental system for textbooks, a purchase that can often cripple cash-strapped students' bank accounts.

As opposed to buying books that comes with price tags over $100 each – even second-hand ones often don't often come with much of a discount -- students can now rent books for the semester.

"If it's a $100 book, we rent to the student for $40 dollars for the semester," said Ken Bissonette from the Concordia bookstore.

For years, students have tried to save by purchasing photocopied books, but a recent RCMP crackdown ended the operation.

Most copy shops now steer clear of textbooks, not only because it's illegal, but also because it's a pain.

"There's no shortcut for going one page at a time to make the copies," said Alex Petraki of Rubiks Copy Centre.

McGill is starting slowly with the rental game this semester, too, making only six of the 1,100 titles available for now.

"Basically the September semester, we're doing a soft launch of the program so we didn't want to publicize it too much," said Patrick McGovern of the McGill bookstore. "I want to make sure it works properly before we let it out into the wild."

McGill hopes to have 300 texts available for the winter semester.

Bissonette at Concordia said he was surprised by how well the rentals are treated by students.

"Some of them come back in pristine shape, as if they hadn't been opened," he said with a wink.