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Chegg bringing book rentals to Borders

The Borders Textbook Marketplace will now offer textbook rentals exclusively through Chegg

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
November 9, 2010
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/1387

Chegg has had a very good year, and it just got better.  The online textbook rental site announced Tuesday that it is partnering with Borders to bring textbook rentals to the book retail giant’s website.

 Borders launched its textbook marketplace in July in partnership with book selling platform Alibris.  With 1.4 million new and used textbooks, some of which are 90% off, the Borders Textbook Marketplace allows customers to buy and resell books via the marketplace platform, but until now it lacked a rental feature.   Now the marketplace will have access to Chegg’s inventory of 4.2 million titles, fast shipping, and free returns.  Chegg will be the sole provider of textbook rentals through Borders’ marketplace.

The announcement comes on the heels of Chegg’s massive $75 million Series E round led by Ace Ventures in September.  Since launching in 2007, the company has raised $219 million in funding and is expected to bring in $130 million in revenue this year. 

Other startups have been pouring into the online textbook rental space, including BookRenter.com, which announced back in September that its revenue has skyrocketed by 725% since September 2009.  In a June interview with Vator News, BookRenter CEO Mehdi Maghsoodnia explained that the textbook market is a $7 billion to $10 billion industry.  The online textbook rental market accounts for some $200 million of those profits, and it’s growing by about 300% annually. 

And it’s little wonder why.  According to Chegg, the average college student spends $1,000 on textbooks, whereas if they rented all of their textbooks, they could cut that bill in half, which is the equivalent of a $2,000 scholarship.

In addition to those savings, Chegg has partnered with American Forests to plant a tree for every textbook that is rented, bought, or sold through Chegg.com.  To date, the company has planted over 3 million trees.

So who are the Chegg customers that Borders can now expect to serve?  According to the company, 70% of its customers are female, 53% are over the age of 23 while the remaining 47% are between the ages of 18 and 22, 67% are full-time students, and 71% receive financial aid from their school.

How does Chegg plan to accommodate the rising tide of students looking for digital textbooks?  Interestingly, a study published in October finds that fully 75% of students prefer print textbooks, and only 47% of respondents said that they would be comfortable using a digital textbook format. 

Medhi Maghsoodnia echoed that reality in his interview with Vator News, noting that digital textbooks are not likely to outsell physical textbooks in this decade as most students prefer a physical book.  He also pointed out the fact that while Netflix offers a wide array of digital titles on its website, the bulk of its revenue comes from physical DVD rentals, because most customers still prefer a physical product. 


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