Undergrads Provide Book-Buying Alternative web site offers price comparison

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

When students purchase books through, 5 percent of the price paid goes to its three founders, but so far they're seeing no profits. The group funneled money into overhead costs this summer, including expenses for advertising, Web hosting and domain registration.

"Right now we're focused on breaking even," Schleier-Smith said.


The idea for the site was born last February, when Schleier-Smith and Tseng found they'd both done some book shopping online, and bought the same textbook at, for some $40 less than the Coop price.

"That's what made us realize that the Coop was ripping us off," Tseng said. "$40 off of a book is pretty hard to resist."

The discounts offered by online booksellers have hurt the Coop, but the store has stepped up its efforts to shorten checkout lines and to procure more used books, Coop General Manager David Sullivan said in April.

Sullivan stressed that the Coop's profits from textbooks are meager at best, calling the textbook section merely "a service" to students.

The advent of online booksellers in recent years is what has made the new Web site possible, Schleier-Smith said.

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