Web developers unleash code in hopes that students will take on bookstores

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.

Using SwoopThat, a student can find cheap books for every one of their classes in 10 minutes, saving up to 75 percent, said Jonathan Simkin, the company’s CEO and a 2010 graduate from Harvey Mudd College in California.

“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.”

Greenberg said making the scraping code available to anyone with a web connection and basic coding skills wasn’t profit driven, but simply an attempt to bring down textbook costs for college students with ever-tightening budgets.

“I felt I could do the most good by open sourcing it,” he said. “It’s about allowing students to save money, and that is what we’re about.”

"(Required)" indicates required fields