In time for the beginning of the new college semester, the textbook rental market saw new announcements from three of the industry’s players this week.
Making good on its August 2009 announcement that it would launch a site for students to rent or buy textbooks, higher education publisher Cengage Learning has launched a direct-to-consumer online retail outlet, CengageBrain.com. The site replaces the former iChapters.com and carries 1,200 Cengage Learning titles for rent, and will add some 1,500 more in July.
CengageLearning.com offers textbook rentals for up to 70% off the suggested retail price. Students can also purchase print textbooks, e-textbooks, individual e-chapters and audiobooks, and access homework and study tools, free content, and discounts for purchasing multiple products. When renting books, students get immediate access to the first chapter as an e-book, and can choose from various shipping options. Once the rental term is complete, students can either print a pre-paid return label from CengageBrain.com and ship the textbook back, or buy the book.
In other textbook rental news, Barnes & Noble College Booksellers announced a new multi-channel textbook rental program. Students can now rent online or from their campus B&N store. At the beginning of the fall 2009 semester, the company test piloted a rental program in three of its 636 campus bookstores, and since then, it has expanded to 25 stores, including ones at Ohio State University, the University of Maryland, and the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Max Roberts, president of B&N College, said the response to the rental program has been “tremendous.” He said the fact that B&N provides students the option of ordering books online and having them shipped or picked up at their campus bookstore helps differentiate the retailer from other textbook rental services.
Meanwhile, Campbell, Calif.,-based BookRenter, which launched in 2008, said it has boosted its offerings and has more than three million titles available, some of them 75% retail price. Almost every book on the site is available for next-day shipping.