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Today is a big day: Campus Books released a cache of data from our Spring buy back period last year. This is big for a number of reasons. First, as one of the biggest price aggregators out there, we have a lot of data, and we’re sharing it with you. Second, this data can be a valuable tool for retailers and deal-seekers alike. It’s common (but often overlooked) sense when you compare it to any other investment: you wouldn’t purchase an investment looking only at purchase cost. You’d also plan for the best resale value.

The full amount of data and some notable results are available for download, so I won’t go into them here. However, the results have some important implications that go beyond just the data points.

First and foremost, students need to be vigilant about selling books in the same way they seek savings when looking to buy. The sentiment is often, “end-of-semester, get me to summer already,” but students can really benefit from doing some final homework.

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But what does this mean for the industry, competitors, and a possible IPO?

Late last week, in a press release entitled “Chegg Expands Beyond Textbook Rental Industry; New Educational Services Include Class Scheduling and Homework Help,” the textbook-rental giant discussed its expansion into other educational areas such as homework help and class selection. While many news sites simply reprinted the story, I dug deeper to look at what Chegg has done and the bigger-picture ramifications. 

Let’s start with some history: In early 2010, I made a prediction (and since it never came to fruition, I’m off the hook for having to prove that I made it!). I was positive that Chegg was going to purchase a large marketplace website. To me, it made perfect sense and was a natural fit: if a rental company owned a big marketplace, the company would have access to all of the sellers and most of the inventory, essentially creating a ready-made drop-ship fulfillment model. And in some senses, this has played out, though not exactly as I envisioned. The changes manifested in the form of websites such as Alibris.com providing textbook-rental sites (and other sites as well) with access to the inventory data without the rental sites having to build (or buy) any of the infrastructure.

Based on observations and predictions, I posit that in order for Chegg to go public (the direction in which it the company is apparently headed), Chegg must address three main points:
 1) How it would obtain inventory
 2) How it would engage students during the school year
 3) How it would handle the emergence of eTextbooks
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The battle over textbook rentals is moving off line and into the campus bookstore, and the turf up for grabs includes both institutional and private stores. During our

CAMEX recap, we shared stories about Follett’s new partner program with independent bookstores, as well as a new partnership between Chegg and ICBA and one between BookRenter.com and NACS. And the trend continues with other companies following suit.

  

South Eastern Book Co. Joins Forces with CollegeBookRenter.com
SEB, through their $10-million investment in CollegeBookRenter becomes an in-store rental player catering to the needs of today’s college students by offering an online textbook rental program. SEB Rental customizes each bookstore’s rental site using the appropriate school colors and bookstore logo. Unlike its competitors that require a 7-10 day turnaround, SEB guarantees that a bookstore’s rental site will be live within three business days of the initial request. SEB provides the necessary customer support and IT assistance and even facilitates customer returns. SEB will assume any losses associated with students’ failure to return textbooks, and bookstores will collect a 10% commission on all textbooks rented through their SEB rental site. SEB Rental offers a store-reporting function and the company provides promotional materials to drive traffic to bookstores’ rental sites and help ensure their success.

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This is the second of a three-part series. Find the first post here.


Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to college and secured enough scholarships, loans and savings to enroll. Now you get to explore the large and exciting (and parent—free) world that is college life. Chances are this will be your first time living away from your parents and it’s probable that you’ve never managed your own expenses before. With all the freedom that college offers, it can be easy to forget that you don’t always have the finances to explore all of that freedom. 

 

By this point hopefully you’ve sat down with your parents, or at least had a serious discussion with yourself, and created a monthly budget. It’s important to not only plan for your known expenses but to have enough wiggle room to accommodate unforeseen expenses like car repairs, replacing stolen property or even late night pizza for your “study group.” With that in mind, it is important to cut corners where you can because every penny you save is a penny you don’t have to borrow and pay back later at 12% interest.

 

Here is your guide to pinching your pennies at college.

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Image courtesy of Engadget

 Since the dawn of the digital age we have been transitioning from old technologies and mediums to new ones. Today, everyone is heralding the demise of print: magazines, books and newspapers are increasingly being viewed online through computers, cell phones and tablets. Yet the textbook industry is stuck in the days of the printing press.

For years, we’ve heard reports on the rising costs of textbooks and the amount of strain that a backpack full of books can put on the spine of an 80lb 5th grader. But while slow, change is coming in the form of digital textbooks increasing their market share in higher education. According to a report by Dr. Robert Reynolds and Yevgeny Ioffe, digital texts currently account for .5% of the overall textbook market, but they will increase by 150-200% each year, reaching 18.8% by 2014.

One roadblock that has long stood in the way of digital textbooks is hardware. With the explosive popularity of netbooks, tablets and readers (the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and the Apple iPad) having inexpensive eBook readers is becoming less of a concern. Take for instance the Kno tablet. The first of its kind, the Kno is a 14 inch touch screen tablet specifically designed to display digital textbooks and is being marketed to college students with the slogan “with savings of 20%-50% on textbooks, the Kno pays for itself in three terms.”

And higher education isn’t the only market. K-12 teachers across the nation are putting this technology in the hands of their younger students. At Clearwater High School, in Clearwater Florida, 2,000 students received a school-furnished Amazon Kindle preloaded with all the books they would need for the semester. Students were excited about the new technology and administrators were excited about the savings. John Just, assistant superintendent for management information systems for Pinellas County schools, said that the Kindle saved the English department so much money, it was able to fulfill its wish list, getting books like Superfreakonomics and Into the Wild.

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