BookRenter Lands Netflix Co-founder as Board Member

4 Comments, an online textbook rental service for students, has landed a big fish for its board: Netflix co-founder Mark Randolph. The former CEO of the online movie rental company retired in 2002 and since then has been investing in and advising a number of startups. BookRenter founder and CEO Mehdi Maghsoodnia said the addition of Randolph to the board was an endorsement of the company’s Netflix-style service for textbooks.

The idea behind BookRenter is one that would likely appeal to any university student (or parent of a university student) who’s had to shell out hundreds of dollars for textbooks that are used a handful of times, or where only a few pages are required for a course. It probably doesn’t appeal to textbook publishers, however, since it effectively cuts them out of the loop — just as Netflix does to movie distributors. BookRenter says it has 3 million books available for rent and offers next-day shipping and free UPS returns. Books can be rented for up to 125 days, at what the company says is a saving of up to 75 percent over buying the book.

The startup, which was founded in 2008, raised $6 million in a Series A financing round last fall from Storm Ventures and Adams Capital Management, and says it’s growing at 300 percent quarter-over-quarter. Its larger competitor is a company called, which has raised a total of $144 million in equity and debt financing. The two have clashed over the claim to who is No. 1 in the market — Chegg recently sent BookRenter a legal letter claiming that it owned the rights to the phrase “Number 1 in textbook rentals.”

The textbook rental market could soon be getting a lot more competitive for both companies: Barnes and Noble (s bks) has been testing a rental service as well.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): The Price of E-Book Progress

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Kate Sheets


J. S. A.

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles on renting textbooks lately, and from a student’s perspective I like the idea of renting, but sometimes I like to keep certain books from classes I really enjoyed. I understand that the main draw to renting is the price, but they actually aren’t always cheaper, and that coupled with the fact that I like to keep some of them often leads me to purchase mine. However, whether renting or purchasing, I use to combat the high prices. They are a textbook search engine that searches all the online retailers and rental sites to find you the best prices. And for books you purchased you can even use them at the end of the semester to search for resellers to sell you books back to. It’s pretty cool.

Michael Geller

JSA – totally hear you. This is why, with BookRenter, if you decide to purchase your book at the end of the semester, you can just pay the difference between your rental fees and the purchase price, and keep the book! If you don’t want to keep it, just send it back for free. Easy.

  • Michael Geller, VP of Marketing, BookRenter

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