A new online textbook service promises to cut the high college bill for US students. The website BookRenter.com lends university students textbooks, enabling them to save up to 75% off the cost of buying.
The start-up, launched in September 2007, offers to lend out in excess of 1.25 million titles for a fee. Students use the books for a set period between 30 and 120 days, returning the book via free return shipping.
As with other web 2.0 enterprises, the principle attraction is personal flexibility. A renter can search for a title, choose the ideal delivery option, set the time frame, and at the end of their learning have the option to buy the book outright.
BookRenter was founded by Colin Barceloux, a business graduate who saw the opportunity while studying at Santa Clara University. The business model is similar to the successful US DVD rental service NetFlix – similar to Australia’s Quickflix.
The start of any Australian academic year goes in hand with littered message boards and chain emails offering “for sale” textbooks. A savvy Australian entrepreneur may see this as the next online business opportunity. Most textbooks cost more than $100, and students would rather spend on more pressing social needs.