While the digital age has changed much about education, the same cannot be said about how college students buy their textbooks. Twice every school year, broke students flock to their local bookstore and inevitably overpay for required reading materials.
Greg Brooks, the founder of Textbook Assault, thinks there should be a more student-friendly alternative.
“There is an oligopoly with the textbook industry,” said Brooks. “Over the last 30 years, five major publishers have essentially bought up all the smaller companies and now control the price of books. They set the prices of textbooks sky high: the price has risen almost 750% since 1978 (compared to less than a 250% increase in inflation).”
For whatever reason, the internet hasn’t done much to corner the untapped market either. While Amazon.com is a popular outlet, it doesn’t always boast the lowest prices. And if students want to bargain hunt, they might have to search upwards of 20 textbook websites—individually—before stumbling upon that one adequately priced copy of Introduction to Organic Chemistry.
Brooks believes there’s an opportunity to change how students shop for textbooks. Textbook Assault’s approach is to become the “Kayak.com of textbooks. “Like Kayak.com does for flights, Textbook Assault instantly searches the internet for the cheapest textbooks options. The key difference, however, is that users can checkout directly from Textbook Assault—even though the company doesn’t actually possess any inventory.
Brooks also feels a sense of responsibility for the Cup Noodles-consuming generation.
“If one of our textbook partners cancels the order, we refill it for the student—often at a loss,” said Brooks. “And even if something gets lost in the mail or a student wants to return a book, we take care of that as well.”
Textbook Assault claims that the average site user saves over $3,000 as compared to either the traditional college store or inefficient internet options. Because Brooks’ site is essentially the first of its kind, the founder is equally excited about how the textbook industry could evolve.
“The textbook industry is ripe for innovation and it will come sooner than later,” said Brooks. “We know what the status quo is and it was easy enough to provide the best solution for the status quo so we quickly did that. But, the innovation is what students need and that is what we will provide in the future. What that actually is, only time will tell.”