Site lets college students find low-price textbooks, quickly

“What we want to do is open up the market for students and increase price transparency,” Simkin said. “We don’t care about making the maximum amount of money necessarily; we just want to make a change in the market and give students another option.”

College students spent an average of more than $1,100 for textbooks and supplies during the 2010-11 academic years, according to the College Board, a nonprofit that tracks educational statistics.

Community college students pay textbook and supply costs of up to 72 percent of their total tuition costs, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

“These high costs affect taxpayers, parents, professors, and students,” said Nicole Allen, a spokeswoman for Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), a network of college student advocacy groups.

As textbook prices have risen over the past decade, many students have resorted to using federal student loans to pay for books before each semester, Allen said. And professors have seen students simply go without vital textbooks for an entire semester because they can’t afford the high costs of new books.

Student PIRGs, in April, announced a national “textbook rebellion” aimed at raising awareness of escalating book prices and their impact on students’ wallets and educational quality.

Student PIRGs officials plan to rally students nationwide in the coming months through social media campaigns, campus visits, and petition drives that could grab the attention of college administrators who might not be aware of just how expensive textbooks have become.