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A Battle is Brewing in the New World of Homework Help

Barnes and Noble Education will acquire Student Brands, which sells study tools.

Two big textbook rental companies have enjoyed very different fates so far this year.

Shares of Barnes and Noble Education have plummeted 37% so far in 2017, as publishers shift to new digital textbook options and college enrollment continues to decline. Publishers are increasingly using direct-to-consumer models for those digital texts, which is hurting business at traditional college bookstores. Barnes & Noble Education operates many of those bookstores, where it rents and sells textbooks.

Chegg, meanwhile, has seen its stock price more than double this year, following a pivot away...