Share via Email Amazon are looking to move into the ebook rental market. AP There've been rumblings for a while about the possibility of Amazon launching an ebook rental service - but according to a report in the Wall Street Journal which is, in turn, "according to people familiar with the matter"Amazon is now "talking with book publishers about launching a Netflix Inc. How did they get so "familiar"? The service would be US-only to begin with, it seems, but it's a safe bet that we'd see it over here in the UK in a matter of months if it takes off.
So much so that Amazon, which has long taken a bite out of new and used textbook sales on campus, entered the rental market last August.
Now three rental leaders begun by students as an affordable alternative to buying textbooks—Chegg, Rafter, and CampusBookRentals—have begun to change their models, which were originally adapted from Netflix. In fact, Chegg launched in under the name Textbookflix.
In March BookRenter changed its corporate name to Rafter, in reference to the beams that support a roof, reflecting its support for institutions.
It used the funds to create an educational platform for high school and college students through acquisitions like Zinch, which connects prospective students to scholarships, admissions officers, and each other; Cramster, for homework help; CourseRank, for picking classes; Notehall, for lecture notes; and Student of Fortune, for online tutorials.
What distinguishes Chegg is its emphasis on students. So much so that its new headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif. The company continues to create new partnerships to make textbooks more affordable, most recently with Open Stax College and 20 Million Minds, for open-source e-textbooks that can be read with its HTML5 e-textbook reader.
It offerse-textbooks and provides a free digital text, publisher permitting, for students to use while they wait for their physical books to arrive. Although Chegg operates in China through Zinch, Rosensweig sees international as the next area of expansion.
But rental continues to be an important part of what Rafter does; it was About. Like Chegg, Rafter cares about the student experience. Currently campuses use Rafter for everything from rental to pricing and scan-and-pay checkout with smart phones or tablets.
We control the price on rental and tell them what new and used prices should be. We speak to the whole cycle. We allow educators to use our platform to adopt for their classrooms. Cofounder and CEO Alan Martin began the company in his basement in and shipped books out of his garage.
Two years later, CampusBookRentals was the first rental company to partner with a school store. They had been the last. In February, CampusBookRentals is looking to forge an even closer relationship with college stores when it rolls out a point-of-sale system that is currently in beta.
With the POS, stores will be able to sell excess textbook inventory directly into online marketplaces, and it will facilitate bookstore participation in RentBack.
Under RentBack, students retain ownership of their textbooks and can rent them to other students, rather than selling them back.
Every time the book gets rented, the student is paid.
Like his colleagues, Martin sees textbook sales eroding from the encroachment of rental and digital texts. But he still expects schools to be able to sell half of their textbook inventory and to be the place where students look for content.
To ensure that the company maintains its campus store focus, CampusBookRentals is in the midst of creating an advisory board of bookstore managers to guide future development.
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