always fun to see a clever business model cooked up and delivered to
the masses. That's the case with BookRenter an
enterprising startup that aims to become the Netflix of
textbooks, helping college students everywhere stay on budget.The
scheme arose amid record high prices for college texts. Some
textbooks retail for $200 or $300, even. An average college
student taking a full course load can easily spend $500 to $1,000 per
semester on textbooks alone.BookRenter looks to remedy that.
Users can search for books via their title or ISBN. They then
specify a rental period and delivery option. The books are
delivered with return UPS labels for easy return shipping at the end
of the exchange period.The scheme is a win-win for all
involved. Students get textbooks at a fraction of the costs.
And BookRenter can buy one text and rent it multiple times,
ultimately recouping significantly more than the purchase
cost.After $6M USD in preliminary funding, BookRenter
$10 million in a Series B financing round. The new
funding will allow the startup to offer rental stores customized for
a specific university. BookRenter offers the tools necessary
for any university to set up its own branded
online rental shop.Currently, the site has 75 university
partners including the University of Texas at Austin, North Carolina
State University, the University of Memphis, the City College of San
Francisco, and the University of San Diego. It also boasts 1.3
million student subscribers.BookRenter isn't the only
textbook rental service in town, though. Barns and Noble
and Chegg(another startup)
both offer similar services. In fact Chegg and BookRenter both
claimed to have come up with the "#1 In Textbook Rentals"
slogan, a fight which recently was taken to court.Ultimately,
BookRenter and its competitors all look to enjoy some measure of
success in this burgeoning market. Students, professors doing
research, and even universities can all benefit from reduced textbook
costs. About the only parties that lose out are textbook
writers (usually professors) and textbook publishers.
Ultimately, there's little they can do, though -- these internet
rental services can always buy books on the free market.