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Cengagebrain Review - Is It Worth Your Time?

Updated on September 6, 2012

Within the last few years a ton of new textbook review websites have sprung up to try to grab a slice of this exponentially growing market. While just about any textbook rental offer is going to be better than buying your books outright from your school's bookstore not all of these websites are created equal. Let's take a minute to look at one of the newer textbook rental services, Cengagebrain, and see what it offers and how it stacks up against the competition.

1. Buying Discounted New Textbooks. Cengagebrain offers many textbooks for sale at a sizable discount. Cengagebrain's discount usually sits around 15% off the normal list price of the book which makes this a cheaper option than buying used textbooks from your school's bookstore. Cengagebrain also offers a steep 50% discount off of the list price of any eTextbook that you purchase from their site. While buying books outright isn't generally the most cost effective way to get the books you need, Cengagebrain does offer a good buying solution superior to buying directly from your school.

2. Custom Study Tools. This is an area where Cengagebrain offers something most of their competition doesn't. Through Cengagebrain you'll be able to choose from thousands of digital tools to help you study and pass your classes. These tools help Cengagebrain fulfil its desire to be a one-stop-shop for college students.

3. Textbook Rental. Cengagebrain's textbook rental service is good, but it just doesn't stack up against most of its competition. Most other textbook rental websites offer more books at better prices than Cengagebrain. Still if you want to use this service you'll find all of the more popular textbooks and many of the more obscure titles you desire.

4. Questia Online Research Tool. In their quest to offer a little bit of everything students might want Cengagebrain also provides its clients with easy access to the very good Questia research tool which provides you with access to millions of articles and texts to help you accumulate and pinpoint the sources you need for your collegiate work. Questia might not offer the most thorough or intuitive interface compared to other research tools but it's value priced (around $99 a year) and it's a nice addition to the other features offered through Cengagebrain.

5. Cengagebrain eBook Reader. Cengagebrain also offers its own proprietary eBook reader software that nicely supports all of the digital content that they push on their website. The Cengagebrain eBook reading platform is compatible with many popular devices, such as the iPad, and provides easy access to Cengagebrain content as well as additional note taking features.


Overall whether you choose to order from Cengagebrain depends a lot on what you're looking for from a textbook rental website. If you're just looking for a website that provides you with the widest selection of books for rental in hard copy at the best price than you're better off with a service like On the other hand if you have a wide variety of needs that you want to meet all within one website than Cengagebrain might be just what you've been looking for. It really depends on whether you want a digital copy or the real deal. You can also compare prices and see if there are any savings in going with an ecopy, this is usually the biggest factor.

Not sold on the digital textbook thing? Try renting form a rental service like Chegg. They offer very low prices and often run huge promotions.

Your Cengage Reviews

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      College Student 16 months ago

      I've rented a book from them without any issues because they had the latest edition that I needed, at a reasonable price. The issue was printing out the shipping label. Whenever I tried to click print label, the webpage loaded as if there was an error in the coding.

      I had to submit a case file and the person who answered it, sent me my shipping label. I've tried going back into my account on the website to check if everything was ok but now my account shows up as an error :/

      Because of these issues I would never rent from them again unless if it is the last resort. I felt like the company did not want me to return the book (it is the latest edition, very expensive) and wanted me to pay full price for it. This is absolutely ridiculous and scam-like. Don't waste your time.

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      SUZZIE MAY 2 years ago


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      Student 2 years ago

      Truly awful. I have the receipts, the statements, the emails, the Cengage Account order status all saying that I payed for my book. Yet they just sent me to Collections because they keep charging me more. How are they not shut down yet? So many of my friends have had the same experience. It would have been cheaper to find the book for full price anywhere else.

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      Student 3 years ago

      I thought I'd save money and buy a used book elsewhere instead of getting the bundle from cengage, and to be honest I didn't know our class was going to use an online tool so I didn't think I'd need the bundle; as result I now have to pay $95.00 just to get an access code to do the online homework and quizzes. $95! For what? A crappy, hard to navigate website?! This company is a rip-off and I don't think any school or professor should use it.

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      Student 3 years ago

      Cengage is by far the worst college supplemental online program I have ever used, the design and layout is confusing and often a link either doesn't go where you want it to, or it just doesn't work in the first place. Also when doing homework it would often just skip questions or save the wrong answer. the layout for the questions is also a complete mess since they made the arrows to go to the next question so small that it's difficult to use on a laptop. Overall the website is for all intents and purposes, completely useless and should never be used for classes

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      Pissed off College Student 3 years ago

      This company is a complete scam. It blows my mind that some teachers actually require their students to use this service. Whoever made agreements with this company obviously did ZERO research on how the website/company works. First off, the website is not user-friendly in the slightest. Secondly, THEIR WEBSITE IS DOWN THE FIRST WEEK THAT SCHOOL STARTS!?!?!?! Whoever was responsible for that needs to be fired but I doubt the company even knew how stupid a move that was because - thirdly - when you try to get on the phone and talk to a real person it is IMPOSSIBLE. Just like most [poorly run] businesses nowadays you are stuck talking to a machine for 10 minutes before you get put on hold indefinitely. Lastly, I had to use this service for a class a couple semesters back and like I said before it was far from user friendly and hard to use, not to mention completely overpriced. This service is built to cater to lazy teachers and I recommend if you know prior to taking a course that the professor uses Cengage you should AVOID the class at all costs. This company is a complete joke and should not be continuing operations.

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      John 4 years ago

      Horrible useless website. The account recovery and password retrieval is pitiful at best and the website runs incredibly slow and glitchy. It operates like a website created by a sadistic 10 year old with patience issues.

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      CHACHO 5 years ago

      Do Not USE Cengage!!! Stay Away. I rented from them and returned my book on time. I was charged for the entire book a month later because they claimed I did not return it. They charged my bank card automatically. I had to go through many loops to prove that I had returned it using the reciept I had when I MAILED it back. These people are nothing but thieves. I say again, stay away from these high priced and disorganized idiots.

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      abert91 5 years ago


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      Disatisfied in Omaha 5 years ago

      Be aware Cengage overcharges for returned book. I do not plan on using the company again.

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      Disatisfied in Seattle 5 years ago

      I ordered a book and received a confirmation of the order. They took a week to tell me that the book is no longer in stock and decided to take another week after that to refund me. I am VERY unhappy and have posted accordingly on comment sites so other people know and understand, "DON'T RENT FROM CENGAGE BRAIN!!!" I am now behind in my reading and had to pay ANOTHER company to do what this company should have done to begin with, honor their agreement to provide the text I rented!

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      Cengage No Brain 5 years ago

      This is an evil company! They charged me more than I should have paid. After 2 years they still charge my credit card without notifying me. If you can afford a textbook 3 times then go to them. Otherwise, save for your tuition. A student like me was broke by them, do you understand?

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      Jenny 5 years ago

      I ordered a textbook from Cengage with some trepidation because I saw some negative reviews of the company on the web. However, Cengage was the only company on the web who carried the brand new textbook we needed at a discounted price. In fact, Cengage was almost the only e-company that had the text.

      I was pleasantly surprised by both the product and the service. I think I may have accidentally sent in my order without "ordering" the free ebook they offered while the text was in transit, so I contacted them by email and within a few days they had remedied the situation. However, their service was so fast, we never even had the chance to use the ebook. The text arrived within just a few days! In addition, the company warns that if their advertisement doesn't mention that a CD accompanies the text, it doesn't have it. Their description of the text did not mention the CD that normally accompanies that text, nevertheless, the price was good enough I ordered the book anyway. It arrived with the software anyway.

      I will definitely check out Cengage for future textbooks as I was that impressed with their service.