New phone app offers students price comparison on textbooks

By Michaela Cleveland, Staff Writer

Published in print Aug. 20, 2014

As the new school year approaches, students around the country are once again faced with the dreaded task of purchasing books.

Fortunately, BIGWORDS is working to make this process easier and more cost effective.

Founded in 2001, BIGWORDS is a company designed to compare prices of textbooks around the country.

“The app is a price comparison app. You can search for anything but it was designed primary for college text books,” said Jeff Sherwood, CEO of the company.

“Let’s say that you have four or five textbooks that you need to purchase, the app will search every store that we are connected with and provide you will the lowest price and where you can get it from online.”

The app does not sell books, but shows students where to sell them.

When Sherwood first founded the company, he saw a demand for a more effective form of purchasing textbooks.

“I realized that bookstores have a monopoly on campus for buying books but online is a good place to purchase the books,” said Sherwood.

“So, I created an app that really gets to the point where students can purchase their books,” said Sherwood.”

“We strip out the worst copies of books and the worst sellers and we only show sellers who have a history of great customer service,” said Sherwood.

The app lists only the books that they find currently in stock.

Sherwood said, “Companies will make sure the books show up on time with the correct addition and condition. We also weed out all the sellers with a feedback rating lower than 75 percent to ensure that the customer gets what they’re paying for.”

Sherwood is a designer and programmer.

He started BIGWORDs after attending the University of Southern California. Since then, the company has taken off. Starting with his website, BIGWORDS.com, the company has transformed tremendously.

“It’s completely different from when we started,” said the California native.

“When we started, there were no book rentals, no ebooks, and no iphones or andriods so we had to discover ways make technology work better,” said Sherwood.

Sherwood spoke of app’s newest“Most recently, we’ve launched a new coupon section where coupons can be uploaded and shared across the website. We’re all about saving money.”

And that is exactly what BIGWORDS is doing.

Approximately 1 million students visit the site each semester.

“Using the app or the website, students save approximately 1000 dollars a semester. Since the release of the app two years ago, the company has seen tremendous growth in textbook sells,” said Sherwood.

The company has also expanded outside of California to campuses all over the country.

“Currently we have five people in marketing, four people in programming, and 150 students promoting the app on campuses around the country,” said Sherwood.

Kevin Wolf, a member of the BIGWORDS marketing team, talked about his position at the company.

“I handle some marketing and public relations for the company. Our job is helping as many students as we can.”

Wolf commented on some of the obstacles that the company faces.

“We’re trying to get the word out about how we can help students,” said Wolf.

“And it’s a challenge because there’s so many schools and so many students and so many expenses,” said Wolf.

“BIGWORDS works for the andriod, the iphone, and the ipad and in seconds students have all those options to buy their books or whatever they need to go back to school.”

It’s a terrific service because of it’s simplicity,” said Wolf.



Categories: michaela cleveland, News

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