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Winner: Flat World Knowledge
Flat World Knowledge bills itself as 'the #1 publisher of open college textbooks.' That translates into serious savings for students at schools that have adopted Flat World books. The company's come up with an innovative system that merges digital and traditional models, allowing for optimum student flexibility and saving them money no matter what! With Flat World books, students have the option to download e-books to digital readers, purchase chapters print-on-demand or buy black and white or full-color textbooks as they see fit - or better yet, they can read their textbooks online for free if they so choose. No matter what option they pick, though, they'll likely save money over a campus bookstore.
Currently, Flat World offers over 70 textbooks divided into five categories (business and economics, humanities and social sciences, science, professional and applied sciences and mathematics). Teachers who want to use Flat World books can adopt them as-is or take advantage of Flat World's unique 'Make It Your Own' program, which allows customization like rearranging chapters, inserting documents and even editing text page-by-page. Flat World's found ways to make the textbook experience more pleasant for both teachers and students - no wonder our readers voted them the best discount textbook provider!
As you could probably guess from their name, BookRenter's like the Netflix of textbooks. Students who want help defraying the cost of their reading material can use this site to rack up some serious savings - as much as 80%, according to BookRenter's masthead. If you're not sure about the whole process of borrowing your books, BookRenter's got you covered. On their front page they answer what would seem to be the most common objections; for instance, they offer free shipping on their texts going both ways. They also allow students to take notes in their books. Students can even sell their own texts to BookRenter if they're looking for a little extra cash.
Like our above finalist, Chegg.com operates as a textbook rental site; it also lets users purchase their books straightaway. Beyond providing books, though, Chegg aims at a more immersive student experience. For instance, their site includes a section where students can go to get homework help in any subject; it boasts that over one million questions have been answered so far! Chegg also provides a 'deals' page where their users can purchase products helpful to students at a sizeable discount, not unlike a Groupon aimed specifically at the college-student set. All-in-all, it's clear Chegg believes in their mission to help students 'save money, save time and get smarter.'