Going to the bookstore with a list from this semester is a thing of the past as more and more students turn to a different option; the internet.
Google the ISBN number, enter in the title and ta-da-results. For the student who doesn’t want to compare the same textbook through seven different websites, open under seven different tabs, there comes comparison shopping.
Students may be familiar with comparison websites like Amazon, Travigo and Kayak. Compare hotels, apparel, vacation opportunities and now, textbooks.
One such comparison website is SlugBooks.
“Basically what SlugBooks does is make it very easy for students to buy their textbooks from various websites all on one page,” said David Miller, CEO and founder of SlugBooks.
Miller started the website after the textbook co-op he worked at in college went out of business. The co-op lost customers to online services. Losing his job convinced Miller to start something new.
The site launched in 2008 and reached 2500 visitors in its first semester. In 2013, having become tremendously more popular, SlugBooks reached over one million visitors.
“We don’t touch the transaction at all,” Miller said. “Chegg and Textbooks.com are our business partners. We are literally sending students to them.”
The comparison market makes it easier for students to get the deal that appeals most to them and find out their options.
“It’s a pretty easy service to sell,” Miller said. “We’re able to provide a practical option for students. The value is pretty complete.”
SlugBooks is located in Palo Alto, California but reaches students all over the country, by catering to their individual needsincluding the needs of Boise State students.
One of those students is Madison Miranda, a sophomore special education major.
“As a freshman I ordered some of my books through Chegg, I did Amazon and other things like that. This past year I got all of them through the bookstore, except my math book because it was cheaper online,” Miranda said.
Miranda, who used to work at the bookstore, has seen a transition from buying to ordering online, especially renting
“I know a lot of people rent,” she said. “And it seems like they get their money’s worth.”
When it comes to comparison websites Miranda sees the usefulness but worries about the future of campus bookstores
“It would be useful in some cases,” Miranda said. “But the book store wouldn’t exist without us buying stuff from it.”
The Boise State Bookstore came to that realization as well, after noticing the effect the internet was having on physical sales it introduced its own comparison shopping online.
“We put that in place primarily to help us to do two things,” said Greg Kannenberg, textbook manager at the Boise State bookstore. “One to help us be more competitive, so when I see some of those online prices if it’s workable I certainly try to match that. But also just be able to have the students see what’s available out there and get the books to fit their financial pocketbooks.”
The bookstore offers books for sale and for rent and Kannenberg has definitely seen the transition to renting, both online through the Bookstore and through other websites.
The goal of both SlugBooks and Bookstore is to make getting textbooks easier for students while not damaging their pocketbooks.
“To provide the best prices and the best offerings of material,” Kannenberg said. “That is our goal.”