Site lets college students find low-price textbooks, quickly

Students paid an average of $1,100 for books and supplies last academic year.

Students’ hours-long web searches for cheap textbooks might be over., a site launched this spring, lets college students search many of the most popular websites – including, and Amazon — for low-cost textbooks in one easy step: Plugging in a class schedule.

Once the student enters his or her courses for the coming semester, SwoopThat generates a list of every book needed for each class, along with every online textbook service that offers those textbooks at a discount. SwoopThat, which searches more than 15 million textbooks, has matched books to courses at 380 colleges, universities, and private schools.

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Three 2010 graduates of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. are among the founders of SwoopThat, and Jonathan Simkin, the company’s CEO, said understanding the financial sting of textbook prices has helped SwoopThat programmers build a student-friendly site.

“I felt that pain a lot,” said Simkin, who graduated from Harvey Mudd with an engineering degree. “I definitely remember how it feels to have to look for [alternatives] to the campus bookstore.”

Finding textbooks for as much as half off the listing price, Simkin said, was always time-consuming. He said it took up to five hours at the start of every semester to visit low-cost textbook websites and search, one book at a time, for the web’s best deals.

Using SwoopThat, a student can find cheap books for every one of their classes in 10 minutes, saving up to 75 percent, he said.

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