Let’s pretend that it’s the week before you plan to return to school. In the midst of your excitement for the upcoming semester, you suddenly remember one small detail: textbooks.  Immediately, you rush onto your University bookstore’s Web site, indicate the classes that you have registered for, and await the moment of truth.
In a matter of seconds, the smile that once adorned your face becomes a frown, when you notice the three-digit number that has appeared on the bottom of your computer screen. Suddenly, you regret buying the new iPod that you “had to have” and you realize that your possible travel plans for spring break are now a thing of the past.
One week and several hundred dollars later, you arrive at the bookstore to pick up your books for the semester. You close your eyes and for a split second, you can imagine yourself sitting on a beach in that expensive tropical location, with the wind blowing in your hair and a panoramic view of the ocean. Unfortunately, you’re forced back to reality when the cashier hands you the receipt. As you stare down at it in the hope that there is some kind of mistake, you are disappointed to see that the amount you paid is real and again you ask yourself, “Is there any easier or more affordable way to get textbooks?”
In today’s world of online technology, countless Web sites are available to college students to purchase textbooks at a discounted price. Out of curiosity, I completed a search on Google for “discounted college textbooks” and was not surprised to find that my search resulted in 1,350,000 different Web sites, all of which were related to this same idea.
Through my own search, I recently discovered that several online stores have begun to provide a new way for students to get their school textbooks: rentals.
Rather than buying a book that in most cases you will not want to keep once the class has ended, these services give students the option of renting their textbooks.
Chegg may appear unfamiliar because the company itself is fairly new, but since its creation in 2007, Chegg.com has become one of the leading online services for renting books.
Other stores like Barnes and Nobles have also begun to rent textbooks to students, but only through the university bookstores that share its name. Chegg, on the other hand, has given thousands of college students throughout the country the opportunity to rent and sell their used textbooks on its Web site with no affiliation with any college or university.
The site’s homepage explains the process in three steps: rent them, get them, and return them. It’s that easy, almost like magic.
Although the Web site mainly focuses on its rental service, Chegg gives students the option of buying the books if they would like to keep them. If not, when the semester is over, students are asked to return the materials by a specific due date. Failure to adhere to this rule results in a fee.
The difference between a service like Chegg and more commonly used websites like Amazon or eBay? That’s simple: reliability.
When using one of the two latter mentioned Web sites, students are buying their textbooks from other college students who are looking to make a profit from their previously used school materials. There is no guarantee or way to ensure that your books will arrive on time and in good condition.
Unlike Amazon and eBay, when using Chegg, customers carry out their business with a company that has specific rules and regulations regarding the transaction, rather than with individual sellers in an online marketplace.
According to the Terms of Use on Chegg’s website, if the books are delivered and found to be in poor condition, the buyer has 30 days to report the problem. After this period of time has passed, the student will be held responsible for all product damages.
To ensure that Chegg’s prices are in fact lower than the average retail price, I decided to explore the issue further and conducted an investigation of my own. For my current semester’s books, when I compared my order from the Fairfield bookstore to the total price of what I would pay on Chegg for the same exact order, I was amazed to discover that had I rented my books instead of buying them, I would have saved myself $180.61.
So, melancholy college student, here is my advice to you. At the end of this summer, when it comes time again to order your textbooks, I encourage you all to give Chegg a try. Before that nasty credit card bill arrives in the mail or the books that you ordered from Amazon are shipped to you two weeks late, save yourself the heartache and take advantage of this great opportunity.
With the money that you can save, you will finally be able to afford that spring break vacation of your dreams.

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