New Web site tries to make buying textbooks cheaper, easier for students

Anthony Holloway

‘One-stop shop’ site compares book prices from online retailers

Two students aim to fill a niche in textbook buying with a Web site they plan to launch in Spring 2010.

Andrew Murgola and Trevor Tracy, sophomore computer information science majors, said their Web site, Textbookly.com, will allow Kent State students to have “the one-stop shop” experience.

“My goal is to make a huge system to list all the books that are required,” Murgola said, “and a list of what books are online and are cheapest.”

He said two things he noticed his freshman year were the lack of transparency when trying to find out what books were needed for classes and the difficulties in locating the deals.

“(Local bookstores) won’t give you the information to be able to find the books you need somewhere else,” he said.

He said students often then face higher prices of local bookstores.

“I’ve found the mark up is around 66 percent,” Murgola said. “When you pay $100 for a book that you can get for $40, you know there is something wrong.”

Tracy said while most everything is coming along smoothly, they are having one issue.

“It’s strange how everything is going really well,” he said. “The only problem is getting the book lists. It seems like people are trying not to give us the book lists.”

Murgola said he is trying to set up meetings with deans of colleges to try to get the lists, as well as talking to teachers to test the idea.

“If they can give them to eFollett, why can’t they give them to us?” Murgola said.

EFollett.com is the company the campus bookstore in the Student Center works with to offer textbooks.

Tracy and Murgola’s Web site is similar to another online textbook site, Bigwords.com. It aggregates the book prices online and allows users to choose from lists of books from other sites.

Murgola said students would have a unique experience, starting with students finding the books they need for classes.

“The search bar will be as vague as possible,” Murgola said. “You will be able to put in the teacher’s name, the class, ISBN or a course number to find out what books you need.”

Murgola said from there, students will be able to scour the prices of the books they need from multiple online textbook sites, such as Half.com, Amazon.com and Chegg.com.

One difference with Textbookly and Bigwords, Murgola said is instead of adding a “middle-man,” the student will be directed to the Web site where the book is for sale and the purchase can be made there.

Tracy said when the Web site launches next spring it would link to a limited number of other sites.

“We will probably only be listing one distributor at first,” he said.

Murgola said Textbookly is going to be Kent State exclusive for the first few semesters while it is built up, but he would like to expand it to other colleges in the future.

Contact student finance reporter Anthony Holloway at [email protected]