New iPhone App Could Help Students Save on Books
Monday, August 31, 2009
By Austin Pearson
Looking for a way to save money on college textbooks? There's an app for that.
A new iPhone application claims to help students save money on textbooks, according to Jeff Sherwood, CEO of BIGWORDS.com.
BIGWORDS, a free iPhone application, can help students find the best deals on their textbooks from Multi-Item Price Optimization which calculates the cheapest combination of textbooks from stores with multi-item orders and finds the best deals available, Sherwood said.
Sherwood said people using the site and the app save $225 on average on multi-item orders.
"BIGWORDS is 35 to 40 percent cheaper than other Web sites," he said.
Students search for textbooks on BIGWORDS by plugging in the title, author or ISBN code and drop the books into a virtual book bag. It searches from over 20 different sources, like Amazon, Textbooks.com, and Barnes & Noble, to find the best deals by factoring in shipping cost and promotions.
"Our site or software runs every combination of all of the books at all of the stores that we cover and comes up with the cheapest combination of stores from which to buy your books," Sherwood said.
The BIGWORDS app already has a few thousand users. It even won The New York Times' App of the Week on Aug. 18, he said.
Sherwood said he got the idea to start BIGWORDS from his time as a college student.
"At that time there were no online alternatives to the college bookstore," he said. "We would wait in line for three hours to check out and there was virtually no availability for used books and half the time they didn't even have the inventory for new books."
More than 750,000 people visit the Web site at the beginning of the semester and it generates $13.5 million in textbooks sales and the Web site is constantly updated with the latest coupons and promotions, he said. BIGWORDS also supports textbook rentals, international editions and guaranteed buyback, he said.
Samantha Stroud, a freshman criminal justice major, said she would use the app in the future to help her find the best deals. For now, she used the university bookstore's Web site.
"I went to the bookstore Web site and got my books off of there," Stroud said.
Katie Bain, a senior psychology major, said she gets her books from the bookstore, but has sold her books online.
"I thought I could get a better price from them than I could get from the bookstore," she said.
Sherwood said that BIGWORDS plans to update the app in November and plans to add the service to other devices like BlackBerry phones.