Features

How to Keep Your Wallet Full at the Bookstore

Affordabook.com Offers a Free Service of Price Comparisons


default article imageWhen returning to the University, did you walk into the bookstore and all of a sudden you had a killer migraine caused by the high prices of textbooks? Yep, that’s a pretty common phenomenon among college students.

According to the University bookstore Textbook Manager Megan McCluskey, textbook prices range from small paperbacks that are $1.50 to hardcovers that cost $260.

The cheapest paperback books are usually used in the literature and social science classes while the most expensive textbooks tend to be used for business and science classes.

The bookstore does offer a “used book” choice so you can shave off that price a little bit, but what if your bill still comes out to more than $400?

That’s also a very common problem at a university bookstores. Some textbooks, such as those for Information Technology, are only offered at our bookstore. However, you have other options to try and save some money.

Affordabook.com is a website that provides a free service to college students in finding the lowest prices for their textbooks. According to Affordabook founder and creator Vincent Thomas, the website gets around 500,000 visitors per year searching for over 650,000 textbook titles.

The website searches over 20 partners to find the lowest prices on books, textbooks and novels. Students can search for the textbook by the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), the title, the author, or keywords. The partners include eBay, Amazon and Half.

Students can also win gift cards to Amazon by following Affordabook.com on Twitter, retweeting the giveaway, liking their Facebook page, making it your homepage, or mentioning it on your blog or website.

It offers featured books, New York Times bestsellers, popular searches and Affordabook newsletters. The Affordabook free iPhone app was just launched so that students can have the service at their hands at all times.

Thomas came up with the concept of the website during his junior year at Virginia Tech. He wanted to publish a list of textbooks for all the courses at Virginia Tech so that students could know what textbooks they needed before the start of the semester.

“It then branched out into offering a comparison service to help them save money on their books. Eventually it moved from a site catering to Virginia Tech students to a site catering to all students,” Thomas said.

The website got its start in the fall of 2006. With the help of a programmer, Thomas launched a beta version by November. “The idea itself brewed in my mind for several months. I knew I wanted to do something textbook related, but wasn't exactly sure what it would be. I had some money saved from a summer internship, and knew I wanted to make a website with the money,” Thomas said.

Matt Miller, a freelance public relations specialist for Affordabook.com and a recent Monmouth graduate, believes in the power of the website and the service it provides.

“It’s such a great resource. I wish I knew about the website when I was completing my undergraduate degree because I know I could have saved hundreds of dollars,” Miller said.

As for actually making money from the website, Thomas receives a small commission from online bookstores and online shops that appear on the website for every sale Affordabook generates. Websites such as Amazon and eBay also provide Thomas with data feeds and so that the price comparison engine can operate smoothly.

Thomas is aware that the textbook industry is evolving. Students don’t realize that the prices of textbooks are actually dropping and according to Thomas, this is partly because of websites like Chegg or Bookrenter that offer a book renting service for students.

Amazon also started offering digital textbook rentals for the Kindle which will lead to other companies offering similar services.

“Fortunately for us, our service is flexible enough to allow for these new methods. When digital textbooks are in demand, we will add them. We also have a sister site, Rent-a-textbook, that specializes in textbook rentals. If you know you only want your textbook for a short amount of time, renting is a wonderful option,” Thomas said.

“Through our website, students can save themselves a lot of time in comparing prices themselves and just let us do it for them,” Miller said.

Michael Karatay, first-year student, plans to use the website next semester after finding out about it from Facebook. “I like that they list all the best prices on all of the textbook websites. It saves time on browsing different sites and having mixed results,” Karatay said.

Samantha Palmucci, junior student, used the website last semester and plans to do so for this semester. “I love it, it saves me so much time and I really can’t afford to get the books from the bookstore sometimes. Instead of going to 10 different sites, I visit one and get the same ending result,” Palmucci said.

So next time you have to pop an Excedrin Migraine after a visit to the bookstore, get on your computer and check out the prices on 20 different websites for the same book in hopes of saving some money; money that you can spend getting your favorite bagel at Einstein’s or those amazing quesadillas at the Student Center.