Web Sites Promise Best College Book Prices
Aug. 29, 2007 - KGO (KGO) -- College students heading back to school are in for a case of sticker shock. The price of textbooks seems to get higher every year, now a web site promises to ease the pain.
The name of the site is textbookflix.com. In short, it's the Netflix of text books, instead of selling you a book for the semester.
Shannon Miller shops for books for her final year at San Francisco State. The history major says nearly half her $2,700 dollar student loan will go toward text books.
"The cost of books is insanely high," San Francisco State Senior Shannon Miller said.
The co-founder of textbookflix.com thinks his website is the answer. By renting books, he says students can save 55 to 65 percent over new book prices.
"We figured this is the only way you can meet a price point that makes sense for the student and the parent," CEO textbookflix.com Osman Rashid said.
We decided to put textbookflix.com to the test. We asked Shannon and two other 7 On Your Side interns to explore buying books comparing three vendor: their school book store, text book flix dot com and a second web site, book finder dot com.
Book finder scans a wide variety of Web Sites and gives you prices from each of them. our interns say they found the best prices on bookfinder.com.
But the students warned that shopping with bookfinder.com may come with some risk.
"They had a lot of cheaper books, but a lot of the books that I was looking for, business books, were international editions which are often times very different from the actual text book itself," said Serena Lee from St. Mary's College.
Our testers also said they had to weed through a lot of unfamiliar web sites on bookfinder.com and didn't know they could trust them.
That's the advantage the brick and mortar stores say they have over the Web Sites.
Russell Markman runs the Barnes and Noble college book store at St. Mary's College.
"When you're sometime ordering books on line, you don't know is that right ISBN is that the right book, is it the correct edition," said Russell Markman from Barnes & Noble College Bookstores.
Both the book stores at St. Mary's College and San Francisco State say they make an extra effort to stock up on used books.
"We basically try to get our orders through the used book vendors first," said James Ferrell from San Francisco State Book Store.
About 40 percent of books sold at St. Mary's and San Francisco state are used. But even the savings of buying used books weren't enough for one of our students who says he loves the idea of renting books from textbook flix.
"I think its a real good idea. I'm surprised it hasn't been done before," said Leo Ronin a Senior from U.C. Santa Cruz.
Shannon gives thumbs down to all three and says she prefers one stop shopping at Amazon, and Serena says she prefers her college book store because its a source she can trust.
So as you can tell, there was no clear winner in our test.
To read more about the text books, click on The Back Story.
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