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Getting Schooled: Chegg.com Offers Cheap, Green Textbook Rentals

| Friday September 18th, 2009 | 16 Comments


b3022789c8_chegg09062009Thousands of excited students headed off to college this fall and as any college student (and parent) knows, in addition to tuition there are many other associated costs of college. Entertainment expenses, parking permits, computers and new clothes all put a strain on the finances. Then, there is the nightmare that is finding and purchasing textbooks. You get your class schedule and hunt for your textbooks amid the chaos, stand in line for hours and nearly keel over when you get your total! There goes your hard earned beer money. College textbooks typically cost more than $100 a piece and students spend an average of $700 to $1,100 a year, representing one of the biggest expenses after tuition and room and board.

Let’s face it; textbook sales are a big racket, especially in higher education. Publishers market new textbooks to instructors and these textbooks get added to your list of required texts. If you’re lucky enough to find a used textbook to purchase, you run the risk of it being in horrible condition or being the wrong edition. At semester’s close you take your book to the bookstore in the hopes of selling it back and recouping some of your costs, only to find out that the book is not being used next semester. The frustration leaves you thinking, there has to be a better way?

Many students, including myself, are now enjoying the easy, greener and frequently less expensive method of renting textbooks through Chegg.com, an online textbook rental company. The company let’s you easily and quickly find and rent books, track them on-line and return them at the end of the semester. When Chegg first launched in 2007, founders Osman Rashid and Aayush Phumbhra had planned on creating a college-exclusive answer to Craigslist, but over time found a trend in their sales. “Over 90 percent of the volume was on textbooks,” says CEO Jim Safka, taking Chegg in a new, more specific direction. The online company now serves more than 6,000 campuses nation wide and helps to save students 65-85 percent on textbooks.

Not only is renting better on the budget, it is good for the environment. Based on student input, Chegg implemented the “Rent-A-Book, Plant-A-Tree” program as part of their ever-evolving model. Over 4 million trees are destroyed every year to manufacture a textbook and for Chegg’s founders it just seemed like the right thing to do. Through the American Forests’ Green ReLeaf program, the company has planted more than 850 acres of trees and students appreciate the environmental angle.

The growing competition from online used booksellers like Chegg means the college textbook publishing market has to change to keep up. Traditional publishers and college bookstores are edging towards rentals. Cengage Learning, one of the nation’s largest textbook publishers, announced in August that they would start renting books to students, at 40 to 70 percent of the sale price. Follett Higher Education Group, which manages more than 850 college bookstores, is also starting a pilot rental program this fall at a dozen stores, including those at California State University at Sacramento and State University at Buffalo.

As others scramble to follow the innovators, Chegg continues to evolve and stay fresh. The founders of Chegg believe their primary goal is to give students what they want and they are happy to listen and accommodate where they can. Safka remarks, “Any time you can solve a problem that’s emotional, you have a chance to build a brand that’s just loved.” This devotion is evident in the student volunteers that dress up in yellow chicken suits (Chegg’s mascot) on campus to promote Chegg to others. As other companies catch onto Chegg’s success and the inevitable market disruption, the founders are hoping that customer loyalty will carry them through.

You don’t have to take Econ 101 to realize Chegg’s business model makes economic sense.


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  • Misha

    Seriously, go to Chegg where you can rent textbooks rather than buy them. You’ll save between 65%-85%. Yes, I’m serious. Make sure you use this special promo code CC106120. You’ll get an extra 5% off your order.

  • http://www.mybookbuyer.com Paul

    It’s true that campus bookstores don’t buy back a lot of books, but many students sell their used textbooks online and find that when they factor in the money they get back, they are paying less overall than the cost of renting.

  • John

    I had a great experience with Chegg. All of my books are in great condition, and the ones I didn’t need I was able to return for a full refund. I didn’t even have to pay return shipping. You can use coupon code CC101954 to get an additional 5% off your entire order.

  • Alex

    I saved $400 as a college freshman using chegg.com. Highly recommended! They also have this code: CC101071 that saves you 5% off the textbooks.

  • John

    I have been very pleased with Chegg's service and am getting ready to rent next semester's books from them. Chegg also buys used books. I got around $40-50 per book which was MUCH higher than I could get from the college bookstore or even by selling on Amazon. Coupon code CC101954 gives you an extra $5.00 when you sell your books to Chegg. The same coupon gets you an extra 5% off of book rentals.

  • Hank

    Chegg is great… I really like there services, I save HUNDREDS each semster… ! I always use this code : CC105203 – It saves me 5% on EACH order !! PLUS I get free shipping – I would deff try the code… oh and before I forget , chegg bought back my old textbooks for $$$ They gave me $56.00 for a book that I bought for $75.00 three years ago ! which is great… I used the same code CC105203 – and They gave me an extra $5.00 !!!!

    Try chegg out there great !

  • PH

    L@@K HERE !! you can Save up to 85% plus get an extra 5% off your entire order with coupon code CC100005 plus you can use this code to get an extra $5 cash back on books.Free return shipping for renters and sellers.Coupon does not expire and can be used as many times as you like.Spread the love for chegg discount code everywhere!!! Oh and for every book you rent,buy or sell chegg plants a TREE! http://www.chegg.com

  • Merchaldo

    Use code CC120011 to save 11% for a limited time, 5% after that. Also get an extra $5 when you sell you used textbooks.

  • Max

    I'm glad you mentioned Chegg in your post. To save money on your order, use Code CC123047.
    Put in the code when ordering and hit the “apply” button for the discount. Code also gives an additional $5 back when selling Chegg your used texts.

    The code does not expire so use it every time you order!

  • http://Chegg.com Emily

    Got a bunch of used textbooks sitting around? Get cash for your books with Chegg.com. They’ll give you more than the bookstore for sure. Visit http://www.chegg.com/buyback and use promo code CC109615 to get an extra $5.

  • Mary Joe

    Use promo code CC103610 or CC100005 to save up to an extra 11% off all books plus use the codes to get an extra $5 cash back on books you sell.Free return shipping for renters and sellers all year long and unlimited coupon usage.No expiration. http://www.chegg.com

  • kelseyo

    have you ever tried out eCampus.com? I tried chegg and was having problems so I thought I would try something else out. a friend told me about them and I loved it! the prices are already cheaper and plus she gave me her code EE15007 and it saved me 5% on top of that. you should try it out!!

  • kelseyo

    have you ever tried out eCampus.com? I tried chegg and was having problems so I thought I would try something else out. a friend told me about them and I loved it! the prices are already cheaper and plus she gave me her code EE15007 and it saved me 5% on top of that. you should try it out!!

  • greentextbooks

    I would suggest renting college textbooks at GreenTextbooks.com – Saving the Planet One Textbook at a Time GreenTextbooks.com is your online leader for finding used textbooks, DVDs, CDs. http://www.GreenTextbooks.com

  • Versie

    Oh it’s a nightmare with all the textbooks every year. Seems they need more and more textbooks with each passing year, and the cost can really skyrocket. Thank God for Chegg and their discount coupons. It saves quite a bit of money and my kid gets all his books.

  • Shane

    I have used http://www.collegebookrenter.com for all my books. I rent from them and it saves me even more than most online stores that rent textbooks. I can even books my kids are interested in there too.