After hearing the words, “My school bus is my limo,” cooly uttered by the most stylish pack of 10- to 13-year-olds Kmart has ever produced, the realization dawned: back-to-school season is here. There’s no way to avoid it—nor the costs that accompany it, largely when we’re talking textbooks.
College textbook prices have risen an alarming 812 percent since 1978. Additionally, with student debt now equivalent to 60 percent of graduates’ annual income, why burden the bunch with sky high textbook prices? With these seven alternatives, now we don’t have to.
Students at more than half of the country’s colleges are now using Boston-based Boundless’ online textbooks and study materials. For the low price of $19.99 per textbook, collegiates can gain access to the newly-debuted Boundless Learning Technology. Described as “part personal tutor, part online search and part textbook,” the startup’s new adaptive feature is able to engage students with quizzes, a flashcard system and summarization, among other features. Boundless even offers a mobile app and open textbooks, helping further curb costs.
Tuatara, co-founded by Northeastern alum Xavier Xicay, first started making rumblings in 2012 and is now preparing to launch its first product out of private beta on September 1: GilaPad. The e-textbook platform has partnered with publishers McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Wiley and Jones & Bartlett to provide titles students will be able to drag text, images and videos from, all while integrating content from other websites, including YouTube and Wikipedia, via GilaPad’s “plugin technology.”
Looking to buy and sell textbooks specific to your school? Bookzingo is an online marketplace co-founded by Emerson student Ryan Catalani that gives students the opportunity to set their own prices. After a price tag is agreed on, students decide on a time and place to connect on campus, so they can complete transactions themselves, ridding the reliance on snail mail. To protect the buyers, Bookzingo also created a mobile verification system that doles out codes sellers can text to the team once they’ve completed their sale.
Although now based in Pasadena, Calif., myBookCrate was founded by Boston University student Erik Bogaard, who’s currently on a leave of absence from school. Within the first two months of launching, the online marketplace reached 1,000 members, and the catalog has since grown to include more than 8.5 million books. Through myBookCrate, students can signify what books they need. Once they’re available on campus, students are automatically notified, saving the time it takes to continuously check Chegg.
Speaking of Chegg, the online textbook rental firm filed for a $150 million initial public offering Wednesday. Over the years, Chegg has remained fairly popular with students, because the company offers a 21-day satisfaction guarantee for physical books and 14-day for e-textbooks. What’s more, students can later sell the textbooks they’re tired of lugging around for cash.
CourseBooks.com has given students the ability to see who’s offering the cheapest price on textbooks. Navigating the site is as simple as entering in your school and courses, and then clicking “get prices.” Like magic, prices offered by dozens of merchants, including Amazon, Half.com, ValoreBooks and Biblio, will pop up.
What’s nice about Axcess Capon is that it lets students try their hand at haggling. When a customer selects a textbook to read online, it’s free for 10 days. After that, the site asks users to “Pay-What-You-Think-It’s-Worth” for six-months access. The one downside? Students might only be offered one of those deals at a time. One deal is better than no deal though, right?
After shelling out cash for all those textbooks, we know you’ll need a back-t0-school laugh. What easier way to achieve that than by flipping through some quality back-to-school memes?