, 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.

1 thought on “, saving the universe from high textbook prices”

  1. I love! For me, it’s always a two step process before buying any textbooks:
    1. Compare prices using and;
    2. Then based on the results, make my decision.

    Works every time! =)

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