[caption id="attachment_35898" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Students have continued to look for inexpensive textbook alternatives."][/caption]

College textbook rental services actually began cropping up in 2008, with startups such as Bookrenter.com 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 Chegg.com began letting students text queries about the availability of...

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