Undergrads Provide Book-Buying Alternative

flyingchicken.com web site offers price comparison

Three members of the class of '01 have decided to "fly the Coop"--and help their classmates do so in the process.

Their new Web site, http://flyingchickens.com, premiered last Thursday and is already logging orders.

The brainchild of three friends, the site offers comparisons of textbook prices for Harvard College courses from five different online bookstores.

Book price comparison sites abound, but this is the first one designed especially for Harvard undergraduates, say its founders, Aviva A. Geiger '01, Johann M. Schleier-Smith '01 and Greg Y. Tseng '01.

"It just makes life much more convenient," Geiger said. "It's such a pain to go to the Coop, write down the numbers, make sure you get all the right editions and everything."

Enter the site's address into your browser, and you'll find a page enticing you in large red letters to "Save up to 40%" from Coop prices, which are usually the same as list prices.

The pulldown list of classes includes every class offered this semester at the College that had an enrollment of 30 or more students the last time it was offered--in general, the courses that tend to require a visit to the Coop for books.

Click on a class, and the site pulls up a list of required titles sold at the Coop.

A click on a book title yields five prices--from Amazon.com, Bigwords.com, Booksamillion.com, Fatbrain.com and Varsitybooks.com--with the lowest price highlighted in red.

Site users may then order their books through the individual vendors, though flyingchickens.com guides them through the process.