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College students listed textbooks as one of the biggest "scams" and waste of money in a recent study about the costs of education by BookRenter. Indeed, according to eCampus News, "College students pay more than $900 annually for textbooks, according to national surveys released in 2008 and 2009, and the cost of textbooks is rising at four times the rate of inflation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics."

It's no surprise that college students are looking for alternatives to textbook retail. And as such, things seem to be looking good for the online textbook rental company Chegg. Techcrunch estimates that Chegg will see some $130 million in revenue this year.

And via Techcrunch today, it appears Chegg has made its first acquisition, a startup called CourseRank. CourseRank was built by Stanford University students to answer a pretty important college question: how do I know which classes to take? Tailored to a specific university's course offerings, CourseRank offers class schedules, planners, calendars and reviews. The startup says 95% of the students at Stanford now use the tool, as well as students at other campuses.

This acquisition seems like a smart one for Chegg - how perfect to have tie schedules to book rentals.

(But is this the model for future course textbooks? Will textbooks become ebooks? Will we buy or rent? Or is the future of textbooks in opencourseware?)

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Audrey Watters


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