Textbook buying alternative entices students

When it comes to buying textbooks, most students expect to pay big bucks, face book shortages and wait in long lines at the SFSU Bookstore, but BIGWORDS.com may be the solution to alleviate book buying difficulties.

BIGWORDS.com takes the lowest prices of books from top online book sellers, such as Amazon and Chegg, and gathers them in one place so students can compare prices and choose the best price. They also have a new tool on the site that will inform students of the buyback value of the textbooks before they even purchase them.

“Pretty much the Kayak.com of college textbooks,” CEO and founder Jeff Sherwood said. “We only host reputable book sellers, so we can guarantee a prompt delivery and books in good condition.”

In 2001, Sherwood created the site in order to help students save money when it comes to buying books.

“We would stand in line for two or so hours just to be ripped off. When I graduated from USC I realized students needed a tool to sift through all these options of buying, selling and renting books,” said Sherwood.

Sherwood said that students who sell their books back to university bookstores are being “ripped off.” When students sell their books back, The Bookstore does not turn around and sell them back to students. Instead, The Bookstore sells the book back to the dealer, which then sells it back to The Bookstore at a discounted price.

“Book worth really doesn’t change very much during a semester,” Sherwood said, “So ideally we are taking something that is essentially the third biggest expense for students and cutting it down to being the price of groceries for a month,” Sherwood said.

Andrew Dao, SFSU Bookstore sales associate, explained that bookstore management, Follett Corp. has two approaches when it comes to students selling back books.

“We will buy the books back temporarily for the store or wholesale and then ship them to another store,” Dao said. “The other is Follett will take the books and sell them to other retailers.”

According to Dao, The Bookstore most likely buys product from other stores ran by Follett and redistributes throughout the company.

Getting books on time for the beginning of school is a very real frustration for students these days and even ordering books from the on-campus bookstore can be difficult.

Linguistics major Daniela Monterroso, 19, used the online tool for The Bookstore this semester but was let down by the service.

“This semester I ordered some books from The Bookstore but they never came, eventually The Bookstore told me the order never went through,” Monterroso said.

Bookstore supervisor Christian Esmas said that freshmen are the main consumers when it comes to purchasing from The Bookstore. As they become upperclassmen, they take note of other purchasing options.

“Through word of mouth, students will ask other students about buying options,” Esmas said. “However, our rental program is big and we have over 50 percent of titles, which counters online.”

When BIGWORDS.com researched the top 1,000 textbooks searched by students on their site, they found that buying and selling books instead of renting them saved students an average of 95 percent, or more than $1,000 per school year.

“Despite the trend toward rentals, our data shows that buying and selling books online is better for students,” Sherwood said. “But however you decide to get your books, it’s always a good idea to use the Consider Buyback Value feature at BIGWORDS.com. This way you’ll know in advance how much those books are going to cost or how much money you’ll be able to make.”

Story by Brad Wilson and Ellie Loarca

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Textbook buying alternative entices students