The average price of a college textbook is not rooted in any notion of reality. Most college kids don’t even buy textbooks (the ones they don’t absolutely need) because you could probably pay Lindsay Lohan for a blowjob with one semester’s worth. You (or more-likely your parents) are being extorted and it’s about time someone took the bookstore down. Enter Chegg.com. The popular textbook rental company has been keeping college student’s money in their pockets for some time now, and they are now taking the next logical step. They are taking their talents to the world of web 2.0, with digital textbooks and a “Linkedin for College Students.” Interesting.
E-Books have sparked a revolution over the last few years, but when you do the research, the first thing you learn about the Kindle is that textbooks are mostly unavaliable. Chegg however, has leveraged it’s already standing relationships with textbook companies to violently force them into the digital world. Or more-likely just ask them nicely and explain that kids are getting the same information they provide for $100 a book on Wikipedia. Chegg’s CEO, Dan Rosensweig predicts that 25% of textbooks will be digital by 2015. And not a moment too soon.
The idea of spending thousands of dollars less on your textbooks over 4 years is pretty exciting, but Chegg.com seems even more amped up about what they are calling a “Linkedin for College Students.” Chegg’s new website will serve as a social network for college students focused around class notes, homework help, and class/professor rankings. Kind of like what Facebook was supposed to be before it became whatever the Hell Facebook is today. They claim they have millions of students at 7,000 different campuses, and once kids figure out that they don’t actually have to take their own notes anymore, shit is going to explode.
The first aspect of this social network is a professor/class ranking system called CourseRank that the company recently acquired. Students can obviously rate their professors and classes, and other students can view those ratings when deciding on classes. No word on whether they tell you if the professor is hot or not, but I can’t see them leaving something so important out.
Chegg.com will also feature a “Homework Help Portal” and a “Notehall.” Chegg will seek out students who take good notes and did well in particular classes to write study guidelines for those classes and submit them to the Notehall. What’s in it for them? Students who want to view those notes will have to pay for them and the student who wrote them will get a percentage (probably not a very big one) of the sale, but still, if you take good notes it’s basically free money. The Homework Help Portal will be exactly what it sounds like. Students will be able to pay to have experts answer their specific questions, which means for the right price you can get a whole test’s worth. Whether or not that’s cost effective is debatable, but we all have those nights where $100 for free test answers doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.
No matter how you look at it, this is an awesome victory for college students. At some point very soon, you wont have to spend hundreds on textbooks or get shady mis-information from Wikipedia as an alternative, ever again. Plus, paying for other people to do your work for you? Not that you’ve never done that already, but now it’s just a couple of clicks on the inter-web. Chegg.com is officially Socialite Approved. God Speed.