Textbook rentals anyone??

Where have I been?? Yet another edtech trend was brought to my attention today, and I had never heard of it before…

We’ve been working (read: struggling) with our campus bookstores, trying to work out a solution for our online/distance students who want to sell back their books. Sure, they could always sell them through Amazon.com or ebay, but we want our bookstores to set up some type of procedure to work with them. (How do your campus bookstores handle this, if you don’t mind my asking?)

Well today, out of the blue, my director sent me an email that didn’t really offer a solution, but it does offer a definite alternative. Textbook rentals — much in the spirit of Netflix and movie rentals — allow students to rent textbooks for a month/semester/year (depending on the service you choose) with the understanding that you will return the textbook in “good” condition. Different services have different pricing schemes. Below is a quick look at a couple of textbook rental sites that are out there.

Chegg.com

Claims to be #1 in textbook rentals. You pay per book for a semester, quarter, or summer. You do have the ability to extend your rental for an additional cost for an extra 15 days, 30 days, semester, or quarter. They’ll even plant a tree for every book you rent, buy, or sell with them. Here’s an example of what you might save:

Biology with MasteringBiology
ISBN: 0321543254
Amazon.com price (new): $137.75
Chegg.com price (per semester): $66.79

Skoobit

Campus Technology did a story on them today, so I wanted to include them in my post, but sadly several of their pages (including the signup page) are throwing errors.

According to CT’s story, Skoobit offers several plans to choose from. The special 45-day summer rental plan allows a student to rent books at $24.99 each. Or students can opt for what they anticipate to be the most popular plan – $10.99 per book per month for four months. Not bad … if only their site would work.

BookRenter.com

Listed in a recent Wall Street Journal article, BookRenter.com allows students to rent books for 15, 30, 60, 90 (~1 quarter), or 125 (~1 semester) days, with the option to purchase it new. Going back to our previous example:

Biology with MasteringBiology
ISBN: 0321543254
Amazon.com price (new): $137.75
BookRenter.com price (125 days): $63.75

So you can definitely save quite a chunk of change using these websites. Oh how I wish these had been available when I was getting my undergrad degree. That being said, even grad students (who tend to hold onto their textbooks to keep as references) would be interested in these sites. Several offer the option to purchase the books new, and with our example above, BookRenter.com’s purchase price ($142.94) is close to even Amazon.com’s (current) lowest used price ($123.89).

Anyway, as a result of all this, we’re planning on letting our students know about this. My question for you all is — had you heard of this before? Have you heard from any students who have used these sites? What did they think?

Katrina Adams

Howdy folks! I’m an Instructional Designer at UT Dallas. I have a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Angelo State University and a Master’s in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems from the University of North Texas. I’ve been working in edtech for 11 years. Hmm… what else? I’m a *huge* fan of that little Irish band called U2, and I’m a bigtime Firefly/Serenity advocate.

8 thoughts on “Textbook rentals anyone??

  1. Matt Crosslin

    I think I also read something about a college buying the rights to a textbook so they could they distribute it for free to students online. Textbook rentals seem to be a good idea to me. I hope it is catching on. But I wonder how many things like this have to come out before textbook companies wake up and consider ‘hum, maybe we are doing something wrong if people don’t think books are worth what we are charging?’ Basic business 101: you can’t charge more than customers think something is worth :)

  2. [Admin note: this post is suspected as being planted by chegg.com – see admin posts below]

    I’m a student at Princeton and have been renting from Chegg for a lot of my classes. They are a fantastic business and have exceptional customer service. I’ve mentioned it to many of my friends and would highly recommend it to anyone here.

    I also loved their ‘Cash Back Guarantee’ program – if you buy a book from them and eventually decide to sell it back to them by a pre-specified date, they’ll offer you more than 50% of the price you paid! In contrast, University stores and other textbook buyers often offer less than 10% for your used books.

    In short, do your wallet a favor and check out Chegg.com

    (Edited by EduGeek Admin – original submission Thursday, 14 August 2008, 09:59 AM)

  3. [Admin note: this post is suspected as being planted by chegg.com – see admin posts below]

    I love Chegg.com’s rental service. I have been using them since I was a sophmore in college. Three semesters later, I have yet to be disappointed. As a chemical engineering major, my books do not come cheap. Last semester alone, I easily saved $300 or more, which makes my parents happy as well as gives me a little extra spending money for the things I really need. Its a shame that something that is required of students is so expensive.

    I am still looking forward to giving their company my business this fall.

    One last note: Last semester, I was going to have to buy a book from my bookstore that Chegg did not have. However, I called their customer service number and asked if they could possibly add it to their site–They did!

    I was able to rent the book for less than HALF the price–the bookstore wouldn’t even buy it back!

    (Edited by EduGeek Admin – original submission Thursday, 14 August 2008, 12:53 PM)

  4. [Admin note: this post is suspected as being planted by chegg.com – see admin posts below]

    I am a student at Santa Clara University and i have also rented books from chegg they are super cheaper then buying books at my school’s book store. You guys should check it out and they have this thing called cash back for people that prefer to own there books and they give you money back if in the end you dont want to keep the book and the customer service people are really nice!

    (Edited by EduGeek Admin – original submission Thursday, 14 August 2008, 01:41 PM)

  5. EduGeek Admin

    I just have to point out here that our site tracker shows no hits today on our site from any search engine results for ‘Chegg’ or ‘textbook rentals,’ but multiple hits from visitors from ‘http://mail.chegg.com/zimbra/mail.’ Some of the comments above are from people that have used suspect email addresses, one of the males above to an address of ‘abbey.holton@*********.com’ There is only one search result that turns up information for a person named Abbey Holton, and it leads to here:

    http://www.chegg.com/index.php/SaveBig

    (scroll to the bottom)

    While that doesn’t necessarily mean that the above testimonials are false, they are at least suspect and I felt the need to point that out. You be the judge.

  6. EduGeek Admin

    Oh, and I must also point out that Ana, Stan, and Chance’s posts all came from the same IP address in Fremont, CA. Chegg.com is located in Santa Clara, CA, which is near Fremont, all of which are in the San Franciso area, which is where the IP address for chegg.com leads.

  7. EduGeek Admin

    Surprise, surprise – after the last post I made, we magically get one search result from a search for ‘has anyone used chegg.com’ and another ‘testimonial’ that traced back to Pakistan. According to the Chegg.com website, ‘Currently, Chegg is only available to U.S. residents’- so that testimonial was just deleted as being suspect. Planting false testimonials and hiring people from Pakistan to do the same? Tsk, Tsk. All testimonials about Chegg.com will be deleted from here on out.

Comments are closed.