If you ask today’s college students what one of their top concerns is when returning to school, it’s how much they’re going to spend on textbooks. Students enrolled in at least 12 or more units are often required to purchase multiple textbooks for each course.
While Sonoma State University college students pay about $1,826 per year and California college students spend approximately $1,200 per year on textbooks, the rising costs to purchase these required items hasn’t gotten any better for them.
However, one company has found a solution to help college students save money when purchasing textbooks and provide other unique services, including a tool that aids in searching for the best online textbook prices.
Founded in 2013 by 2012 college graduates, Peter Frank and Ben Halpern, Texts.com provides a user-friendly, price comparison engine and free textbook exchange for students. The website allows students to buy and sell their books at a reasonable price, as well as find the best book deals from other websites such as Amazon and Chegg. Frank and Halpern’s purpose for creating Texts.com was simple: convenience and the goal of creating the best possible platform for students.
“As current/recent students, we’re frustrated by the broken textbook aftermarket: over-paying only to under-sell a few months later,” said Jennifer Hamilton, a student and marketing intern at Texts.com. “It’s difficult to find students that have the books you want, and want the books you have; Facebook Groups are disorganized and clunky, and services like eBay and Craigslist aren’t designed for the local market.”
The Texts.com website also incorporates other useful services, including a tool called the “Occupy the Bookstore” Google Chrome plugin, which is a lightweight plugin that is downloaded and only activates if the school bookstore’s website URL contains: bkstr.com, bncollege.com or neebo.com.
“You use the bookstore website just like normal to identify the books you’ll need, and the plugin automatically figures out the books you’re looking at and then overlays market deals right there on the page,” said Hamilton.
The plugin helps to easily identify and compare textbook prices from other websites without having to manually search for them.
According to Hamilton, one benefit the “Occupy the Bookstore” tool has given students is an easy option to find fair deals for their books.
“Bookstores have benefited from controlling the ‘required textbook information;’ this tool helps break that chain of their power,” said Hamilton.
Texts.com is the only textbook-related service to build an easy-to-use Chrome plugin. The company’s main service is they are a two-sided marketplace, which means they support both buyers and sellers.
When students search for a book on the Texts.com website or use the plugin, they will also see any relevant student deals listed, thus allowing them to connect with a student seller.
Students may prefer using this method of selling their textbooks instead of using their school’s buyback program; which otherwise may not give them the best deal.
English major Michelle Brady doesn’t believe she will utilize the Texts.com website to make comparisons in textbook prices.
“For me, when I buy textbooks, I don’t shop around for best price,” said Brady. “I’ve found as a student the differences in pricing is not enough to be worth the trouble of a) locating the book, and b) having it shipped to me in time for school.”
As in Brady’s case, who also holds down two jobs, she stated that the time element was another factor as to why the Texts.com website is not convenient for her.
Students selling their books can also benefit from using the services that Texts.com provides to its clients.
“Sellers benefit from avoiding paltry buyback programs,” said Hamilton. “They can compare market buyback deals from third-party services, and also benefit from selling locally within their community.”
One student who wasn’t familiar with Texts.com, nor its services was Sage Ryan, a communication and media studies major.
After logging in to the website, Ryan said, “I am most definitely going to use Texts.com for books I need this coming semester.”