It all began in the mid-’90s. Technology was rapidly evolving and its role in our everyday lives was in the infant stages. At this point, when cyberspace was a wide-open frontier town, an exciting new technology (digital books aka electronic books or eBooks) emerged and hailed the dawning of a new era in the publishing world. But what happened then?

The predictions of the demise of the printed word did not come to fruition. Why haven't we all adopted the eBook if it was such a promising idea two decades ago? The fact of the matter is that digital publishing failed in its first attempt. The Internet was twenty years younger, high-speed and wireless had not yet been introduced, and social media carried little to no meaning.

However, the past five years have seen a rebirth of the eBook. Once again, the seers suggest that within five years, a majority of colleges will integrate the technology; within seven years high schools will; and throughout that span, Kindles (our review of the original Kindle here and the later K2 here), Nooks, iPads (our preliminary take on the iPad here), and many more tools for digital reading, will saturate the market. Will this happen? Or is it just another series of false prophets claiming that the future is at hand?

The consensus in the industry is that seems like the real deal this time. eBook form and function is far superior to the models of 15 years ago. Also, the developments of high-speed and wireless Internet access, and thus the ability to buy media instantly and without getting up from your chair make a world of difference. No doubt the virtual bookstores of today are far superior to those of the past as well, and excluding a few reference and technical books (yep, the textbook sort), I found the Kindle and iPad libraries fully stocked with anything I could ever want. And apparently others are finding plenty of what they need and want as well; eBooks sales have seen an annual growth of 55%, as compared to traditional print-book sales growing by only 2.5%.

So what's the right approach to the eBook? Amazon now has the ever-improving Kindle DX available, and from its reviews it looks like a simple, affordable, and user-friendly creation. The iPad, Steve Jobs's new baby, is sure to play a role in the future eBook market. But maybe something better is just around the corner and who wants to spend hundreds of dollars on a device that could be obsolete tomorrow?

An equally important question is who does the eBook really benefit (other than Amazon and Apple). Nature? It surely reduces the necessity to cut down more trees to print new books. Publishers? The cost of production, shipping, and handling are all virtually erased. Authors? With the reduced cost of production, publishers are now keeping more profits after incurring fewer costs, which means higher royalties for authors. Readers? Versatility, compact design, cheaper books certainly do add to the lure of the eBooks idea.

So yes, all of the above parties seem to benefit in one way or another. Now who loses when it comes to eBooks? Well, the real losers are the bookstores as publishers can now communicate directly with their readers using the Internet and purchases are made online and content downloaded without a physical retail store.

How soon is this going to happen? It already is, but it has been for some time, though momentum is building. The current eBooks (readers, selections, and delivery models) are far from perfect. Note taking, marking, and finding a certain position in a book are far simpler with a hard copy (for now). And some people just miss that feel of a book. However, traveling with and accessing books in your collection are far simpler with a Kindle or iPad or Nook. And of course the ease of expanding that collection is close to effortless.

Now is an exciting time to see how technology and print converge. No one can know the timeframe in which this convergence and subsequent transition and transformations will take place, but all factors suggest it will happen and happen sooner rather than later. For some, the eBook is the perfect solution for modern literary needs, but only the coming years will tell if this technological trend, a further shift into the digital, will truly endure and how popular it will be.


Buyback is on and if you don’t have a plan for how to turn your books into cash, you’re running out of time. Every day that passes from here on out puts you at risk for getting less cash (or even none at all) as buyers fill their quotas and amass stock from students who sold early. That said, if you have books that you’re looking to sell, now is the time and you simply cannot afford to wait. Here’s what you need to know in order to have the best buyback experience as we come down to the wire:

Grab the books you want to sell, stack them so that the ISBNs are easy to read, and visit the CampusBooks.com selling tool ASAP. While the selling tool has always brought you the best buyback prices from all over the Web (including bookstores, individual buyers, and marketplaces) all on one page, we’ve recently amped up the power so as to include more buyers. More buyers means more options, more competition for your books, higher values, and of course, less time you’ll spend hopping sites. Let us do the comparisons and find you the best prices.

So what does it mean when we say that we’ve amped up the buying power? Well, our lineup of buyers now includes

  • Amazon
  • Better World Books
  • Blue Rocket Books
  • BookByte
  • BookStores.com
  • Chegg
  • eCampus
  • FirstClassBooks.com
  • MyBookCart.com
  • SellBackYourBook.com
  • TextbookLink
  • Textbooks.com
  • TextbooksRus.com
  • TextbookWheel
  • ValoreBooks

That’s 15 big-time book buyers all in one place to save you the hassle of going from site to site and waiting in line at the campus bookstore only to be told that your book isn’t being bought. So what are you waiting for? Get selling! And if you’re an iPhone user, you can get all of the buyback goodness on your phone using our CampusBooks for iPhone app. Wherever you are, just scan your books and get selling on the spot.


It’s almost May and with that comes textbook-buyback time (not to mention getting into the swing of baseball season). Now, more than ever before, you have options about how and where and when to sell back your books. To help you wade through a sea of options and make informed choices so that you get the best buyback prices and the least hassle, we’ve put together a triple play of our best and most-useful buyback info, not to mention the straight-up truths that other folks may not tell you.

1) “Selling Back Books: A Few Simple Rules” is a must read. These rules and tips and reality checks will help you get through finals and buyback without losing your mind. Follow these guidelines and you will be well served to maximize your cash back and keep your sanity.

2) “Why'd She Get More Than I Got? Tales from the Buyback Trenches” is a conversation about an all-too-familiar frustrating incident that makes us cringe just to think about. Check it out for the scoop on how not to get a raw deal while a classmate gets a sweet one. Oh, and that offer in the last paragraph still stands. Tell us your story and we’ll hook you up with a gift card.

3) If you have an iPhone, you need the CampusBooks for iPhone App. In addition to finding the best deals when buying books, the app finds you the best buyback prices. Simply scan your book’s ISBN barcode and you’ll see both buying and selling options, all from your phone wherever you are. So if you’re standing in line at the bookstore and the clerk offers you a buyback price that feels like an insult, simply scan the barcode and find out if and where you can get more money back.

Now you’re armed with all the info you need to get the most this buyback season. Good luck on finals and happy selling!


Several months ago, we wrote a blog entry entitled Money Matters: A Special Edition on Textbooks & Tax Credits. In this entry, we discussed the American Opportunity Credit, a subsection of the Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits.

That was a while ago and in the meantime and with your studies coming first, you may have lost sight of this important and beneficial bit of legislation. That, coupled with the fact that the deadline for filing taxes with the IRS is a mere two weeks away, is why we want to take a minute to remind you what the credit is all about and how it benefits you and how to take advantage of it. Here’s what you need to know when you file your taxes by April 15:

  • Under the American Opportunity Credit (AOC), students and their families are eligible for up to $2,500 in credits.
  • The credit can be claimed for the first four years of post-secondary education.
  • You can be reimbursed not just for tuition, but also for textbooks and other supplies purchased as course materials. It does not matter whether or not the materials were purchased at the institution where the student is enrolled. That said, if you got your textbooks from a merchant you found through CampusBooks.com, it still counts!

The time-frame that we’re looking at here is calendar year 2009 (the tax year). But the AOC will also be offered in 2010, so keep your receipts for next tax season when you may be eligible again!

–Lena


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle . . . Renew and Rejuvenate for Spring!

After a long winter filled with some of the harshest weather we’ve seen in a long time, spring is nearly here! Every time we see a patch of green or hear a bird chirping nearby, things feel a little easier and like we’re about to turn the corner and enjoy warmer weather, sun, and longer days. And what could be more spring-like than being mindful of a green lifestyle? Exactly, that’s why we’re presenting our segue to spring, complete with green links we love (and hope you will too), in this installment of the blog.

Indispensable Green Website: GreenStudentU is an awesome site that really has it all, everything from living greener on campus and to making a difference as a global citizen. And it’s all geared to college students, the very people who are at the heart of positive environmental change. Love it.

Indispensable Green Website: Red, Green, and Blue is cool because it’s all about strength through unity and putting aside political differences and ideologies to discuss and debate environmental issues. And when the discussion gets a little heavy or you’re feeling like you need a laugh with your thinking, visit the Cartoons section for some editorial funnies.

Indispensable Green Website: GlobalStewards is a no-nonsense site that for more than a decade has been providing tips for living a sustainable lifestyle. There’s a terrific amount of useful information here on everything from personal finance to gardening to eco-travel. Their Eco-Tips page is a must-bookmark for sure.

Hot Links for Green School Supplies: Inhabit’s Eco-Friendly School Supplies piece presents some super-sharp environmentally righteous gear for school. And because Inhabit is a design site with an eye for the green, you know this is some good-looking and highly functional stuff as well as eco-savvy. If you’d like more suggestions for eco-friendly school supplies, check out this list from Real Simple and this one from TheDailyGreen.

Green Gifts for Moms, Dads, and Grads: We all know about the winter holiday season in December, but there’s also one in spring. With Mother’s Day, Graduation, and Father’s Day close at hand, why not go green and shop early so you can stress less come finals time? For the greenies on your spring gift list, Gifts.com has an expansive selection of eco-friendly gifts, including some really creative stuff made from objects that would have otherwise been wasted.

And a final word about keeping it green this spring: remember that used textbooks are at the heart of keeping prices down and deforestation to a minimum. Do your green part and when you’re done with your textbooks, sell them back so that another student can save and another tree can stand tall.

Have a happy and healthy and successful spring!

–Lena


So much of what we read about the current job market is doom and gloom, but that’s not the case across the board. Some industries and some companies are growing, and CampusBooks.com is one of them. Right now we’re looking for a Senior PHP Developer to join our team.

Sure, you probably got to know us when you were a student looking to save money on textbooks or find the best deals for buyback, and we certainly hope that we were able to help you do these things. And now’s your chance to come work for us and become someone who helps pass on the best deals to other students.

CampusBooks.com is a fun company staffed by a great group of folks committed to coming up with cool solutions (like our on-the-go apps) to help college students and book lovers buy and sell books for the best prices. We also run an eco-friendly virtual office environment, which means that the new hire would work from his/her home office and not need to relocate. Interested candidates should check out the full job description.


So today was the big day, the day that techies, Apple fans, and book people alike were all waiting for: the big announcement of what had been well leaked as the “Apple tablet” amidst all sorts of rumors of features, price points, and even names. And we did indeed get confirmations and negations (yes, it’s a touch-screen tablet, it’s called iPad, prices start at $499 and go up to $829 with additional storage and connectivity). Now let’s look at what else we know, as well as what we’d like to know, what the iPad means for college students (um, it looks like an awesome gaming and media device, you know, for when you’re not studying), and of course, how it affects buying and reading textbooks.

The biggie is that the OS is going to be very familiar to iPhone and iPod Touch users. Same sort of interface there in terms of touch, icons, the App Store, accelerometer, “sensing” portrait/landscape orientation, etc. Cool, because that’s a great interface that has been a real game-changer. Besides, we have an app for it :) And this OS combined with the absence of any sort of optical drive reinforces that all software and media will be sold and downloaded through . . . the iTunes Store, which is of course, the parent to the App Store.

Which brings us to a new app and store: iBooks. It’s a combo reader/store and free download (well, it will be a free download; it’s not available as of this post and there’s no date for delivery though the iPad device itself is slated for late March and early April). Unlike the black-and-white Kindle, the iPad utilizes a high-resolution LED-backlit screen that displays everything in sharp color. This is big; in fact, when we reviewed the Kindle and discussed whether or not it was right for textbooks, the absence of a full-color display was a deal-breaker for us.

We also know that iBooks will feature content from Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette Book Group. How much content and whether or not that content will be academic textbooks or just more mainstream titles is unknown, as is the role that other publishers will play in title offerings. iBooks will use the EPUB standard, and Steve Jobs hinted at more to come by saying, “We think iPad will be a terrific e-book reader for popular books and textbooks.” What that more is, however, is either TBD or under wraps. We can tell you that from the demo that it seemed as if non-academic books would be selling for $8-$15 each or so. No word on textbook selection or pricing, but obviously we expect that the titles will cost more than the trade books and less than print textbooks. Oh, and will the iBooks app work on iPhones? Seems like it should if it’s an app from the App Store and it uses the EPUB standard, right?

So where does this put us and college students in terms of what the iPad means and can deliver? Well, as always, Apple has delivered a gorgeous device that puts the competition to shame in terms of form and function. But we’re just not quite sure what the iPad’s function is exactly given that it’s somewhere between an iPod Touch and a MacBook (Steve acknowledged this from the get-go). We think that the iPad will carve its identity and that users and developers will dictate that identity pretty quickly. There’s a lot of possibility and potential here, and Apple knows it as they are already offering developers the iPad SDK.

In terms of textbooks, there’s a lot that’s unknown and we feel pretty safe in saying that the iPad is hardly making the printed word obsolete any time soon. But the iPad could have a very big future if more publishers get on board and load the store with content for good prices. Probably the biggest thing that iPad has going for it in terms of books (textbooks and non-academic titles) is that its price starts at just $10 more than the Kindle DX and the Kindle is just an eReader whereas the iPad is a lot closer to being a full computer with things like word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, map and GPS, games (they look amazing), movies, and anything else an app-maker can create. And that is a huge difference.

In the meantime, we’re eager to hear about textbook selection and pricing and to get our hands on an iPad to play with the iBook experience. Until then, while by no means a laptop replacement (still no Flash) or the complete eBooks device (yet), the iPad could easily be a Kindle killer.


Our entire CampusBooks.com existence is based upon the belief that students and book-lovers need never pay full price for books and that retail bookstores, be they on university campuses or in malls, sell their wares at inflated prices. We believe that consumers have options, often more options than they know about, and that they can save money by shopping online. So for more than a decade now, we’ve made it our mission to create and enhance a single website where shoppers could see all of their options in one place. And we love it. Not a day goes by that we don’t get students thanking us and saying something to the effect of “I can’t believe how much I saved using your site! Thank you!” Our pleasure.

Recently, with the release of our iBookStore app for iPhone, in particular v2 with scanning, we offered students and book-lovers a totally revolutionary way to literally see the savings — in the palms of their hands while in the bookstore — and to then purchase the cheapest books available in the entire marketplace with just a few touches of the screen.

To illustrate exactly what we’re talking about and why iBookStore is so innovative and illuminating, we did an experiment. We armed an intrepid team of students with our iBookStore iPhone app and had them brave Chicago’s wintry weather to do a little textbook shopping in a few university bookstores. They made their way through the stores, scanning textbooks across disciplines and comparing store prices with online deals — all from the free iBookStore app on their iPhones.

In addition to a few funny moments (and one that got a little tense when a bookstore clerk was uncooperative), the results of the price-comparison excursions are shocking but consistent (not to mention a good reminder of why CampusBooks.com was founded and that our work here is by no means complete). We urge you to visit our YouTube channel, check out these short videos, and see for yourselves that whether it’s medicine, humanities, economics, or law, university bookstores are overcharging students across the disciplines. Our team found that the average savings by using iBookStore was over 36% compared to the bookstore prices. And this statistic was just for new textbooks and didn’t even consider used books or textbook rentals where the opportunities to save are greater.

Watch the videos (iBookStore: Stop the Scam, Start the Scan Visit 1 and iBookStore: Stop the Scam, Start the Scan Visit 2) for details and you’ll see how time after time, our team scanned and saved, scanned and saved. It actually got a little scary for students buying from the bookstores, not to mention a little embarrassing for the bookstores overcharging their students. In fact, there was never an instance where a scan didn’t reveal that our team would save a good bit of money by buying through the iBookStore app instead of from the bookstore.

So in terms of saving and seeing for yourself that the power to stop the swindle lies in the palm of your hand, what are you waiting for? Download iBookStore, grab your iPhone, and head out to the bookstore on your campus. See for yourself just how much you can save and go for it; take advantage of the good deals and cheap books iBookStore finds for you then and there. And while you’re at it, film your own experience as a textbook hero and share it with us on YouTube. Show off your smart shopping and how you Stopped the Scam and Started the Scan!



Welcome to one of the best shopportunities of the year, the time when post-holiday and end-of-year sales promise the biggest bargains available and many retailers hurry to make sales before the January 31 end of the fiscal year. Whether it’s technology and gadgets, clothing and accessories, home furnishings, or media such as music and movies, now is undoubtedly the time to buy!

And textbooks are no different. In fact, there have never been more academic books available (in both quantity and format) at better prices. The market is wide open and it’s rife with amazing savings for those savvy student shoppers who buy early. But by the same token, there’s also more demand and more competition for those deals, so in order to capitalize on them, you must act quickly.

Right now, the days just after Christmas and immediately before and after New Year’s Day, are some of the busiest days in the textbook business for all of the reasons stated above, and of course, with the spring term starting later this month. Money-saving used books are the most desirable commodity and the first to go flying off the shelves. If you’re waiting until you go back to school in hopes of striking bargains at the campus bookstore, you’ll be too late.

The good news is that CampusBooks.com offers students access to the most merchants who stock the greatest number of cheap used textbooks as well as new books on sale, eco-friendly inexpensive textbook rentals, and instantly downloadable eBooks. It’s all here for you right now and all you have to do is search for the books you need and you’ll see the best deals and be able to take advantage of them all without even setting foot in a jam-packed bookstore during rush.

The bad news is that every day that you wait to order your books for the upcoming term means a smaller selection from which to choose and the best deals having already gone to students who shopped earlier. So what can you do to boost your chances of getting the best deals? Well, first and foremost, if you know the books that you need for the upcoming term, order them now. If you don’t know which books you need, send a polite email to your professors asking for the ISBNs, titles, and authors for the texts you’ll be using. Professors are aware that textbooks are pricey and they want you to do well in their courses, which means doing the reading. A polite and appreciative email should be well received, and of course, as soon as you get the necessary information, find the absolute best deals using the CampusBooks.com price-comparison tool. You’ll feel great going into a new year and a new semester knowing that you saved big on your college textbooks.


Recently we announced the first release of iBookStore, our free price-comparison app for iPhone and iPod Touch. From day one, we knew that development would be an ongoing labor of love, one that would see all sorts of cool enhancements that best served students and book-lovers alike.

We’ve gotten a great response to iBookStore in its young stages, and we thank everyone who has downloaded it, used it to save money on books, rated it, and provided feedback (please keep all of those things coming). As we mentioned when we introduced the app, we are committed to staying on the cutting edge and delivering the new features that make iBookStore a must-have app for finding the best deals on books . . .

. . . Which brings us to the next wave of big news about iBookStore: Now (and just in time for the end of the term), in addition to finding the best deals for buying books, the app finds the best deals for selling books back! It’s super easy, simply punch in the ISBN of your book and you’ll see both buying and selling options, all from your phone wherever you are. It’s real-time information that brings you the most for your money whether you are buying or selling.

So, if you’re a college student, make sure that you have the latest release of iBookStore loaded on your iPhone so that you can avoid waiting in long buyback lines at the campus bookstore only to find that they’re paying next to nothing for your books. And if you’re a reader looking to declutter and put old books into circulation and bring in some holiday cash, iBookStore is perfect for you as well.

–Lena