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Website helps students find cheap textbooks

For many Ohio State students, one of the most expensive purchases they make each quarter is textbooks.

A new website is trying to help students save money without making them spend all day researching online or walking up and down High street comparing prices.

SlugBooks.com allows students to select their course, see what books are required for that course and see the different prices retailers charge for the books.

“We provide seven different options where you can buy your books,” said David Miller, CEO of SlugBooks.com.

The options include the official university bookstore, the best used prices from Amazon.com and Half.com, rentals from Chegg.com and BookRenter.com, a digital option for a device like the Kindle, and a student exchange where students can post books they want to sell through Facebook and other students can message them back.

“Ever since we integrated with Facebook this quarter we have seen an overwhelming positive response,” Miller said. “It is very easy to list now. Just click a button and you can list.”

SlugBooks.com receives a small commission for books bought from Amazon, Half, the two rental options and the digital option. The company receives no commission for books bought at the university bookstore or through the student exchange on Facebook.

“Whenever people buy from those two, it is totally commission-less, but it is very relevant content for people; it gives them more to choose from,” Miller said. “We are really just about providing transparency and information about textbook prices so people can make their own decisions.”

The prices from Amazon and Half are for used books and the university bookstore lists the new and used prices.

“Since we have started this, we have seen that the bookstores have been increasingly more competitive with the online sellers,” Miller said.

The prices for books are updated every hour.

Miller, a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, started SlugBooks.com in 2008 after the Slug Books Co-op bookstore he worked at could no longer compete with online marketplaces and went out of business.

SlugBooks.com “was pretty much running in California until this quarter and Ohio State was one of the first few schools that we pursued a bigger expansion at,” Miller said. “Every campus we go to, it catches on pretty good. We see around 10 percent of the undergraduate population using the site in the first quarter.”

Students at OSU view the website as a helpful resource.

“It’s a nice idea and (will be) good to use,” said Mohsen Almohsen, a graduate student in economics. Mohsen said he thinks textbooks are overpriced, but does not shop around.

“I just buy them from the bookstore,” he said.

Some other tips to save money on textbooks, from CBSMoneyWatch.com, include using older editions of textbooks, renting textbooks instead of buying, sharing a book with classmates, purchasing international editions, ordering books before school starts and looking for coupons online.

Online coupons for textbooks can be found at textbookcoupons.com, couponwinner.com, promocodes.com and promotionalcodes.com. 

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