Slideshow: Textbook Startups Raise Big VC Rounds

Over the years, a lot of venture money has gone into revolutionizing the textbook business. And not all of those businesses turned into successes.

During the dot-com boom, VCs sunk $27 million into Varsity Books, one of the earliest online college bookstores, taking it public in early 2000. At its height, the company had a valuation close to a couple hundred million. Three years ago, its shares deep in penny stock territory, it sold to Illinois education company Follett Corp. for under $4 million.

Lately, however, venture firms have been pretty optimistic that there are big gains to be had revising the college textbook industry. Over the past year, VCs have invested more than $150 million in at least five companies aiming to shake up the textbook space, including this week’s announcement of a $20 million second round for Ogden, Utah-based Campus Book Rentals, which operates an online textbook rental service for colleges and contributes some proceeds to charities.

The following slideshow shows the companies that have raised the largest recent venture rounds for textbook-focuses businesses.

[slideshow]

[slide title=”Chegg”]

Location: Santa Clara, Calif.

Business Description: Provides online textbook rental services and a service for students to sell textbooks.

Stage Of Development: Founded in 2007. Has acquired several companies to date, including Notehall, Cramster (a provider of online homework help that previously raised $6 million from Primera Capital) and CourseRank.

Deal Size: Has raised $165 million to date, including $75 million last year.

Venture Backers: Gabriel Venture Partners, Floodgate, Foundation Capital, Insight Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

[slide title=”BookRenter.com”]

Location: San Mateo, Calif.

Business Description: Operates a textbbook rental service throughout the United States.

Stage Of Development: Founded in 2008

Deal Size: Raised $56 million to date, including $40 million in February.

Venture Backers: Adams Capital Management, Comerica Bank, Focus Ventures, Lighthouse Capital Partnerse, Norwest Venture Parnters, Storm Ventures.

[slide title=”Campus Book Rentals”]

Location: Odgen, Utah

Business Description: Operates an online textbook rental service for colleges and contributes some proceeds to charities.

Stage Of Development: Founded in 2009

Deal Size: Raised $20 milllion this week in a second round. Previusly raised $3 million in 2010

Venture Backers: Level Equity, Five Elms Capital, Cherokee & Walker.

[slide title=”Flat World Knowledge”]

Location: Irvington, New York

Business Description: Publishes free web-hosted textbooks, and earns revenue by selling print on-demand soft-cover textbooks, audio textbooks, e-books and other

products.

Stage Of Development:: Founded in 2009

Deal Size: Raised $29 million to date, including $12.5 million in January

Venture Backers: Bessemer Venture Partners, GSA Venture Partners, High Peaks Venture Partners and Valhalla Partners.

[slide title=”Courseload”]

Location: Indianapolis

Business Description: Offers e-textbooks and other online materials for college students

Stage Of Development: Founded in 2009

Deal Size: Raised $1.25 million in March

Venture Backers: Indiana University Foundation

[/slideshow]