Matt Weir / The Collegian
Kennel Bookstore makes more than 2,000 book titles available for rent through Chegg
The message is clear: “Kennel Bookstore with Chegg.com are in it to save Fresno State students’ money.”
That’s what Angela Pontarolo, Chegg public relations manager said regarding the recent convergence of California State University, Fresno’s bookstore with the textbook rental company.
The Kennel Bookstore has teamed up with Chegg to give students the option in renting books that are 35-75 percent off the new edition price in order to save more money.
“A lot of people are excited about it. So far we’re the only big school in the nation that’s doing something like this,” said Ron Durham, director of the Kennel Bookstore.
The Kennel Bookstore began renting out four titles of books in fall 2008. Bookstore representatives saw that there was a big need for students to opt for renting textbooks rather than buying the books.
Instead of producing their own program for textbook rentals, Durham and a colleague of his sat down with the founders of Chegg.com and discussed piloting a rental program for Fresno State.
“This is the first semester we’ve worked with Chegg. They’re excited about the partnership because they want to work with the bookstore,” Durham said.
Other CSU campuses have piloted their own book rental programs. Durham said that other universities would rent out as many as 40 titles to their students, but larger universities like CSU Sacramento rent around 200 titles, approximately seven percent of its stock.
Chegg rents out 80-85 percent of the book titles that Fresno State requires for students.
Durham said that Kennel Bookstore is the first larger population state university bookstore that offers the biggest textbook rental option.
“Our colleagues [other campus bookstores] haven’t found out about it but they won’t understand what we’re doing because they see Chegg as the competition, but we see it as ‘we can’t do rentals but they can,’” Durham said. “So we’ll partner with them and let them do what they do well and work with them with what we do well.”
Durham also said that this deal could hurt the bookstore financially since Kennel Bookstore is a nonprofit business where money goes back to the university.
“We’re just going to have a small amount of commission,” Durham said, “but our mission is to offer what the students want and what the students need.”
Associate director and general merchandise manager Jack Gartner, said although the prices of rentals are beneficial to the students, one of the disadvantages is being unable to highlight or write anything on the books.
Other than that, Gartner said that Kennel Bookstore is looking forward to give students an option for lower priced textbooks. Even though they once saw Chegg.com as competition, they now see them as allies.
“We welcome them in our store, rather than shoot them out of here,” Gartner said. “We’ve been doing promotions for them by providing them a kiosk in our bookstore and they’re on our Web site where they can be linked directly.”
Pontarolo said the partnership between Chegg and the university is mutually beneficial.
“Chegg benefits [the bookstore] because we’re expanding our name to Fresno State students while the students benefit this is an opportunity for them to save more bucks,” Pontarolo said.
Criminology major Michael Keeney said that since he doesn’t keep the books he buys for general education classes, he would rather rent than buy.
“This year I didn’t get to buy back my books because I didn’t get the flier on the buy back dates. So I have $300 worth of books that I don’t use at home,” Kenney said. “I think renting is a better option so I don’t have to keep those books.”
With the promotions of Chegg on campus, Kennel Bookstore officials hope that they can expand the program by having the campus used as a drop-off point for students where instead of students having to send their books back to Chegg, they’re able to drop them off at the bookstore.
Since the books are provided with free shipping to bring those back at the end of the semester, Durham and staff are working on a deal to have students drop the books off at the bookstore instead of shipping it.
“We’re helping out Fresno State because they’re helping us,” she said.