, saving the universe from high textbook prices

By Nick Stern, Managing Editor, a price com­parison website, has found that students who use the site effectively have made, on average, 90 percent of their money back by buying and selling textbooks through its search engine, founder and CEO of, Jeff Sherwood said.

What they have found is that students using the site can find the cheapest copy of any textbook in the beginning of the semester and then sell that copy for the high­est offer at the end of the semes­ter which leads to huge savings and sometimes, turning a profit, Sherwood said.

“On average they make 90 percent of their money back but much of the time they are breaking even or even making a little bit of money,” Sherwood said.

This does not work when books are bought from a book­store and then sold somewhere else because the margins are much higher, he said.

The offers on buybacks are generally much lower at book­stores because they act as a middle­man for most transactions, he said. Bookstores offer students a smaller amount on their buyback because they end up selling it to the dis­tributor for a higher price who then sells it back out for an even higher price, he said.

Sellingbooks online gener­ally creates a higher profit because a lot of the time books are being sold directly to the company that is going to turn around and list the book for sale, the very same day, on sites like eBay, Sherwood said.

At the end of the semes­ter, students are advised to sell their textbooks as early as pos­sible because that is when the merchants are competing to fill out their inventories for the next season which leads to prices offered being the highest, he said.

“You want to buy your books as early as possible and sell your books as early as possible in order to get the best prices,” he said.

Bigwords technology essen­tially calculates the cheapest com­bination of stores to buy, rent, or download from while also considering all current coupons, promotions, and shipping rates, Sherwood said.

So if someone needs five dif­ferent textbooks for school, there may be a quarter-million com­binations of stores to buy those books from, he said. The site goes through all of those combinations, considers coupons, promotions, and shipping rates, and comes up with the best possible deal on all five books, he said.

Calculations generally take five or 10 seconds for most price comparisons to finish and if they get very complicated they may take up to 15 seconds, he said. It is much faster than going through every single store online, and trying to figure out the cheapest combination to get books, he said.

Everything is very simple and easy to use on Bigwords and the benefits to students are incredible, he said.

Selling textbooks is easy and allows the seller to choose an offer and click the link, he said. Once an offer is selected, a link leads to a company’s web­site where the seller prints out the shipping label, puts the book in a box, tapes a label to the box, and drops it in the mail, he said.

Postage is paid by the company with the shipping label and generally seven to 10 days later the check comes in the mail, and with PayPal it comes even quicker, Sherwood said.

According to a report commissioned by Congress to figure out what was driv­ing the price of high-cost text­books, books on average cost students $1281 each year at four-year universities, he said.

Textbooks are con­sidered the third highest expense related to college just behind tuition and room/ board, he said.

On average, students who use Bigwords’ best recommendation to buy and sell their books are saving thousands each year, Sherwood said.

These companies are not only able to offer students a higher price for the textbooks now that the middleman is cut out, but most of them are also small companies that do not have many employees or stores affording them a much smaller margin, he said.

Selling online also means selling to a much broader market so when the book­store at CNM does not want the textbook that a student no longer needs, chances are one of the many compa­nies across the web will have room for that very same book, Sherwood said.

“If the bookstore at your school decides they do not want to buy the book you just bought last semester, you are still very likely to sell that same book using Bigwords because it is looking at many other vendors and distributors all over who will have a place to sell it,” he said.

Sherwood’s advice to stu­dents who want to save and possibly make the most money with their textbooks is to pur­chase their books as early as possible because that is when the inventories are the largest and there is the most compe­tition to sell, which leads to prices being the lowest, he said.

Foul Play Café Murder, mystery, mayhem and dinner

By Dan Chavez, Staff Reporter | Photo Courtesy of

A dramatic scene the cast of Foul Play Cafe enacted while customers dine.
A dramatic scene the cast of Foul Play Cafe enacted while customers dine.

Guests to the Foul Play Mystery Theater can try to solve a crime while dining, enjoying a show, and picking up clues as they are revealed.

Physics major, Cora Brittain manages the operations, advertising, sets, props, and cos­tumes for the production of Foul Play Café located on the ground floor of the Sheraton Inn at 2600 Louisiana Blvd N.E.

Brittain described Foul Play as an interactive production in which the actors mingle around the dining floor and stay in character while helping the audi­ence to solve a murder mystery, she said.

Guests can ask the actors for clues to the mystery and try to iden­tify the culprit to the hei­nous crime of the night, Brittain said.

Main director, Eddie Dethlefs, said Foul Play Café is basi­cally a murder-mystery theater and dinner event, and that the production consists of an interactive mystery play in which the actors also serve food to that evening’s guests.

“The way I like to sum it up is basically live action Clue,” Dethlefs said, which is a comedic murder mystery movie and board game.

Guests can play along as much or as little as they want, and it is fun when an audience member will dance around with the actors or play a part as an improvised character, Dethlefs said.

Brittain said the current mystery is a play off of “Casablanca” with characters loosely based on those in the movie.

The show features a Humphrey Bogart character played by two different actors who alternate for dif­ferent shows; they also have two actresses who play a character based on Ingrid Bergman, she said.

The tone is one of fun and comedy with a prize for the guest who solves the mystery, which is a t-shirt that features the show’s logo saying, “I solved the mystery,” she said.

Brittain felt that the cur­rent show is their best yet.

“It’s a lot of fun, high energy, the cast is a really good mix, and so far we’ve had a lot of really good feed­back,” she said.

The food for the Foul Play Café is banquet style, that is handled by the hotel and consists of selections includ­ing beef or chicken entrées, or vegetarian dishes, Britain said.

The selection of food changes for each show and the menu changes periodically, she said.

The production is a small, which has a seven-person cast with a mini­malist set and more of a concentration on costumes, she said.

The audience size is kept small with as few as 15 guests to a maximum of 100, and Brittain said that there tends to be more interaction between guests and the actors in smaller groups, while a larger audience may be more of a traditional show with less interaction.

The Foul Play Murder Mystery Theater attracts a wide variety of audiences, so there is no particular type of person who comes to watch the shows, she said.

“We have people who love theater and people who are just looking for a night out. We don’t really have a cer­tain demographic other than people who have a little more disposable income. Beyond that, it’s a wide age range,” Brittain said.

Rebecca Holcombe, one of the actresses playing the Ingrid Bergman character in the current production said that she was so glad to get cast in the show.

“I love doing it, I really do. I’m excited for more, I’m really excited for the next show, because I play a crazy charac­ter,” she said.

Actor Chris Adams, who plays the modified Humphrey Bogart character in the cur­rent production said he is chal­lenging himself to develop his character while keeping with the tone of the production.

Adams said he enjoys the variation in audience mem­bers, some of whom include children, couples celebrating an anniversary, and various others celebrating birthdays, he said.

NMSBDC helping new small bussiness owners to succeed

By Dan Chavez, Staff Reporter

Starting a small business can be a daunting prospect, but entre­preneurs whether novice or expe­rienced do not have to go it alone, said Trish Abbin, who is a Business Specialist at the New Mexico Small Business Development Center here in Albuquerque.

The NMSBDC is an estab­lished resource for students or anyone who is interested in starting a business but need help getting their business idea off the ground.

According to there are 21 locations through­out New Mexico, and two centers that serve the local area, with one at the CNM Workforce Training Center at 5600 Eagle Rock Ave. NE and in the South Valley at 1309 Fourth St. SW.

The Workforce Training Center location will be having pre-business workshops on Jan. 8 and 22 at 10 a.m., which is open to all students and will be free, and can help with learning about business resources and getting assistance to starting a new business, according to the site. The SBDC can help people with a variety of issues when starting a new business, to include computer and tech­nical training, one-on-one business counseling, infor­mation access and referrals, as well as help with finance, accounting and procurement, according to

Clients can also get help with business and marketing plans, and caters to all types from women and minori­ties to young students and Spanish speakers, according to

The South Valley NMSBDC has helped many people in their efforts to get business ideas up and running and a wide variety of people with all types of business ideas come through the door, she said.

The business ideas brought in by clients vary greatly and there are a wide variety of personal situations, she said.

Clients asking for help may have very different types of questions on starting up their business ideas, but most questions and problems seem to be about funding a startup, she said.

Traditional sources of business funding, such as banks, will rarely lend money to a person looking to start up a small business, and those entrepreneurs that manage to secure a bank loan would require having an excellent credit rating, she said.

“Probably the biggest ques­tion that we get from people or the biggest reason people come is they went to talk to a bank about getting a business loan and the bank said, ‘no, you’re nowhere close to get­ting ready, go see these people (NMSBDC),’” Abbin said.

Because a client’s credit rating is a major determin­ing factor for funding, Abbin requires clients to pull a credit reports, and their credit will determine what type of lender will approve a loan, as well as the likelihood that a client will get a loan at all, she said.

A higher credit score will mean the entrepreneur has far more options than some­one who has poor credit, and creditors such as a bank may lend out money depending on the amount requested as well as the collateral that is being offered, but only if the borrow­er’s credit is excellent, she said.

There will be the client who has very poor credit, so low that they will never be approved for any type of loan, but Abbin avoids directly tell­ing this person that they cannot get financing.

“I do talk to them about their credit and a lot of times we will work with them. You bring in their credit and we will go over what things you can take off to raise your score,” she said.

Abbin said she gives the client homework assignments that she puts in a file, and when the assignments are compiled, they will amount to a completed and detailed business plan.

Rather than seeing an impossibly large project of starting a business, the entre­preneur works on small steps to succeed, she said.

New business entrepre­neurs commonly have a gen­eral idea of what they want to do for a business, but they do not yet have a business plan nor have they gone through any part of the process involved in creating a business, she said.

“It’s anything from you have an idea and you’re not sure what to do with it, to people who have been in busi­ness for many years and need some sort of assistance with their business,” she said.

The success of a business usually depends more on the person running the business rather than the business idea itself, she said.

The people who are more passionate and driven will be more likely to work harder in an effort to see their business succeed, she said.

“A lot of times that’s where you get the person who has the drive. They see a busi­ness and it’s not necessarily the passion, but they know it’s needed, so they know they can take that business to a point of making money and success,” she said.

The first step, Abbin said, is to give the SBDC a call at 248-0132 to set up an appoint­ment or go to for more information.

For more information on SBDC campus workshops, contact Christina McQuerry at 224-5250.

Don’t let back to school blues ruin this week, get proactive

By the CNM Chroni­cle Editorial Board

Sometimes it can be difficult to come back to school after a nice long break, and many of us are guilty of lazing around during the holiday season, which can get us completely out of synch with going back to a demanding school schedule.

It can be tough to get back into the swing of things and here are few tips to do just that.

Getting back on track is crucial to not being mis­erable for the next couple of weeks, so take the time to make sure sleeping and eating habits go back to normal before coming back to school, so as to not be groggy and hungry in class, as well as to not sleep through any classes and to be able to be alert while instructors are explaining semester lesson plans and student expectations.

Being prepared is sometimes all it takes to succeed, so creating a rou­tine and daily schedule for homework and other school related tasks can be beneficial to having a real plan of attack and follow­ing through with it to have a better chance at success this semester.

Instructors may be a little slow to coming back after the break as well, so if a teacher isn’t being clear about something, do not be afraid to ask for clarifi­cation, even if everyone in class is new, because it does not help a student to not understand lessons begin­ning in the first week of class.

Also try to be patient with instructors because they are probably trying to be patient with their students as well, and some of them probably lazed around just as much as their students over the break, so they might just need to back into swing of things themselves.

Also, it may sound silly, but eating a good breakfast truly does help when having to get up before noon for the first time in weeks, so make sure to take the time to eat a good meal and that will help getting through a grueling day of first classes.

Don’t forget to take the time de-stress at some point this week as well and not think about school or the piling homework that needs to be done, instead take some time for yourself and relax or do something fun to unwind before getting to the nitty gritty.

Coming back to school can really suck sometimes, but taking the time to do these few things over the first few weeks can help, and don’t worry because it’s only a few months until spring break. Good luck to every­one this semester, and don’t let those back to school blues get ya down.