The College has transitioned this year from selling textbooks through an on-campus textbook center to using Chegg, an online book retailer and renting service. Although the switch was designed to save money and increase efficiency, some students report negative experiences with the platform.
This was the first year that the College shut down the Textbook Center, formerly located in the basement of Coles Tower, and required that students purchase textbooks from online platforms. 

“We changed the model that had been there for so long,” said Michael Tucker, course materials and general book manager, regarding the transition. 
Director of Dining and Bookstore Services Mary Kennedy cited the College’s 50 percent reduction in Textbook Center purchases over the past six years as part of a larger trend for book purchasing on college campuses across the country. 

While some students were able to find cheaper options through Chegg, particularly when choosing to rent science and math textbooks, many students used other platforms due to cost savings or negative experience with Chegg.

“[Chegg] told me, ‘Oh, it’s a used copy but it’s in great condition,’ but I got it and the first 30 pages rip out and I’m missing chapters,” said Chase Savage ’16.

On Wednesday, Savage had to call Chegg because when he ordered two books for his Theravada Buddhism class, he actually received two books on taxation policies for corporations. 

Savage noted that Chegg had helpful customer service who refunded him all shipping charges for his purchases. However, he characterized his overall experience as negative.

“I ordered books in the middle of August and some of them still haven’t come,” said Savage. “I’m definitely using Amazon [not Chegg next semester].”

Kennedy explained that while the College considered Amazon during the process of selecting the new textbook platform, Amazon prefers to work with large institutions that are near their distribution centers. 

According to Tucker, the College has been working on the transition with Chegg for the past 10 months. 

“As a small college, our limited buying power made it difficult to procure books at competitive rates,” said Kennedy. “We spent the entire summer working with Chegg—they’re committed to making this work.”

While the transition to online-only textbook purchase and rental may be a more efficient choice for the College, some students wish that the Textbook Center still existed.

“I get the whole ‘have an online textbook service’ and that there is an efficiency aspect to it, but I still don’t understand why we don’t have a textbook place on campus to deal with these questions,” said Savage. 

Not all functions of the Textbook Center have been made obsolete; periphery materials for science labs, art materials and certain textbooks—usually written by Bowdoin professors—which are not yet available for public purchase have been moved to The Bowdoin Store in the David Saul Smith Union.