Chegg launches e-textbook reader
In a pre-emptive strike against Apple, Chegg has announced a new online reader for online textbooks. Chegg is a company that’s been working on the electronic textbook platform for a while, although if you’re name is Chegg and not Apple or Google, you’re not going to get very far. Weird name too, Chegg. Say it out loud. CHEGG. Feels strange in your mouth.
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the new reader device.
On top of the basic functionality — letting you buy or rent textbooks to read via an internet-connected device — it includes a way to highlight and save text, write notes in the margins, write notes for any page, and view all of these annotations in an aggregated view. So you could read and mark up a chapter, and then go check out what you noted later on when you’re studying for a final.
Other features include a view of the passages that users have marked up the most, a tool for looking up definitions from Wiktionary and context from Wikipedia, and a way to ask questions drawn from the text you’re reading, and get answers back from the existing community of Chegg users.
Why all this fuss about textbooks all of a sudden? It’s a market ripe for overhaul. The dead tree versions are incredibly expensive because they don’t print all that many of any particular title and if the book is assigned a student HAS TO buy it, therefore it’s not exactly a competitive situation. If you can skip the publishing cost and the distribution cost, the price of the actual book should be a lot lower and students tight on money will win, even if it means investing in an iPad or a, uh, CHEGG.
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