As textbook marketplace Chegg forays into digital textbooks, it's not dwelling on the reading experience. Rather, it's surrounding its marketplace with tools that keep students coming back to its site instead of browsing rival stores like Amazon and textbooks.com.
Chegg has made three acquisitions in about a year to fill out its toolbelt, and on Friday it announced a fourth -- a student-to-student homework help site called Student of Fortune.
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The news follows Thursday's launch of a redesigned website that better integrates three of Chegg's newly acquired companies into its main site and an announcement that the company has expanded its digital offering by about 25,000 books.
Chegg's December acquisition, Cramster, powers a "homework help" section of the site that walks through step-by-step solutions from textbooks and provides student and expert advice. Its August acquisition, CourseRank, powers a "courses" section that gives students access to course schedules at their schools, along with reviews and grade distributions for each class. And its June acquisition, Notehall, adds a student-to-student marketplace for notes. All of these services -- as well as a student-targeted daily deals site -- are now housed under one Chegg log-in name.
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This focus on services rather than books is an unusual behavior for a business that is primarily a textbook vendor. Contrary to several etextbook companies that have focused marketing efforts on the features in their digital book formats, CEO Dan Rosensweig tells Mashable that Chegg's stance on digital format is "agnostic."
Chegg's reader program is HTML5-based and can run on anything with a browser. It comes with standard highlighting, note-taking and search features. Instead of taking on the responsibility for developing further interactivity, Rosenweig says that Chegg wants to develop a "student graph."
In other words, as Rosenweig has oft repeated, Chegg wants to be a place where students hang out 365 days a year instead of just the two days they buy textbooks. It doesn't matter what digital formats eventually win out over others -- Chegg will have the students to sell them to when the winners are determined.
Buying Student of Fortune adds about 300,000 users to Chegg's already millions-strong "student graph." The remaining question is whether this and Chegg's other recent acquisitions will indeed shift it from "online textbook rental company" to the "social education platform" it now dubs itself -- and, of course, whether that helps it sell more textbooks.
Photo courtesy of istockphoto, dlewis33
This story originally published on Mashable here.