Online book-rental business evolves from college experiment to full-time venture

Textbook rental companies are flourishing as college students seek alternatives.

Some may call it “Netflix for textbooks,” but what David Comisford really wants to call his new venture is “successful.”

Frewg — pronounced , not coincidentally, like the first syllable of frugal  — was quietly launched online, evolving from an enterprise that Newark native Comisford developed as a scrappy Capital University undergrad.

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College students can now rent textbooks electronically from Amazon

A month or so before back-to-school season begins in earnest, Amazon has jumped into the lucrative college textbook market with Kindle Textbook Rental, Mashable reports. Amazon claims students can save as much as 80% off textbook list prices by renting from the Kindle Store. The company is offering tens of thousands of textbooks, which students can rent for periods ranging from 30 to 360 days…

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Students have continued to look for inexpensive textbook alternatives.

College textbook rental services actually began cropping up in 2008, with startups such as borrowing from the business model of Netflix in letting students rent and return their books instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars a semester. But in 2010 this textbook distribution model really took off, aided by large companies such as Barnes & Noble getting into the act.

Last year, textbook rental company began letting students text queries about the availability of specific titles. The service logged 269 student text messages in August 2009.

A year later, that number had skyrocketed to more than 20,000 in August 2010, according to a case study published by Waterfall Mobile and Chegg.…Read More

The textbook alternative that could save students $700 per year

Only three out of 10 students say they would rent all their books.
Only three out of 10 students say they would rent all their books.

College textbooks available for free online or sold in print for low cost could slash students’ annual textbook bill from $900 to $184, according to a survey of students from 10 campuses released this fall.

The Student Public Interest Research Group survey, “A Cover to Cover Solution,” which included answers from more than 1,400 students last spring and summer, claims that books with open licenses could cut rising college textbook costs by up to 80 percent, yet remain profitable for publishers who have long battled the open-textbook movement.

Six in 10 students said they would be willing to buy low-cost paper copies of an open textbook, the group explains, as three-quarters of student respondents preferred printed books over digital textbooks—which is similar to findings from other surveys conducted in higher education.…Read More

Students send texts for cheap textbooks

More than 20,000 students have texted their textbook requests this year.
More than 20,000 students have texted their textbook requests this year.

College students reeling from textbook sticker shock in their campus’s bookstore can send a text message to a popular book rental company to see if they can save serious cash every semester.

Online textbook rental companies, which allow students to rent books for a semester, often for a fraction of the retail cost, have seen consistent growth in the past three years, industry experts say—and one company, Chegg, now invites text-message inquiries to help students check availability and rent from the company’s repository of 4.2 million books.

College students still can check availability and prices on Chegg’s web site, but they also can scour Chegg’s book options by texting a textbook ISBN or title to a designated number. The student will receive a responding text with a link to Chegg’s mobile web site, accessible on popular mobile devices like the iPhone and BlackBerry.…Read More

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