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Paul Aiken
Brock Kowalchuk, left, helps Carly Smith, an applied math major, sign up for stusbooks.org Friday at CU s Engineering Center. Kowalchuk is one of the creators of the site, which connects students buying and selling used textbooks.

Price comparison

“Essentials of Economics”

Class: ECON1000

Stusbooks.org: used $30

CU Bookstore: new $104.75, used $78.50

Colorado Bookstore on the Hill: new $115, used $86.25

Amazon: new $84.99, used $70, plus $3.99 shipping

**********************************

“Prego! Invitation to Italian”

Class: ITAL1010

Stusbooks.org: used $100

CU Bookstore: new $104.75, used $78.50

Colorado Bookstore on the Hill: new $168, used $126

Amazon: new $64.95, used $54, plus $3.99 shipping

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“Project Management”

Class: EMEN4030

Stusbooks.org: used $100

CU Bookstore: new $188, used $141, rent $84.75

Colorado Bookstore on the Hill: new $65.95, used $49.45, rent $29.70

Amazon: new $123.99, used $100.24, plus $3.99 shipping

Five University of Colorado students have created a free website they say could save their fellow students hundreds of dollars on textbooks every semester.

The new site, stusbooks.org — short for students’ books — is exclusive to CU, connecting local students who are looking to buy or sell used textbooks.

Site co-founder Logan Meyer, a mechanical engineering senior, had the idea after spending an “absurd” amount of money on his fall textbooks. With the help of fellow students Brock Kowalchuk, Tommy Benning, Matt Saverin and Sameer Patel the site was up and running at the beginning of the fall semester.

“We’ve all been ripped off by the bookstore,” Meyer said. “Everyone wants to save money on textbooks, and I think we can do that by taking the middle man out.”

The site creators said the hope is that students will be able to get more money for their books than they would selling them back to the bookstore, while simultaneously being able to buy books for less.

Bryan Elmer, manager for the Colorado Bookstore on the Hill, said renting may still be the cheapest option if students are purely concerned about cost.

“We rent at 45 percent of the new book price,” Elmer said. “Plus, here you know what you’re getting, which is not always the case online.”

Pam Mills, director of the CU bookstore inside the University Memorial Center, said students should shop around for the best prices but there are other factors to consider.

“It’s important to look at things like shipping costs and return policies among other things,” Mills said. “Sometimes the cheapest prices isn’t always the best option for students.”

Mills also said the bookstore is a one-stop-shop for students, providing them with not only with all the textbooks they may need, but also other course materials like lab instruments or eye goggles.

But Kowalchuk, one of stusbooks.org‘s creators, said hassles and shipping costs are eliminated by the Web site since it’s limited to CU students, who can meet in person.

The site, which is free to both sellers and buyers, requires a colorado.edu email address to sign up. Students post an asking price and other details about their textbooks, much like amazon.com or Craig’s List, but the creators are not profiting from the transactions, sending the benefits directly to the sellers and buyers.

“It’s so much more convenient for students,” said Kowalchuk, an aerospace engineering senior. “There’s really no downside to posting on the site.”

This month will be the first transition time for the site, the time of the year when students are looking to buy or sell books as the semesters change. There are currently 120 students with textbooks posted on the site, but the founders said they’re hoping that number will drastically increase as finals approach and more students begin looking to sell back their books.

CU sophomore Jorge Casas posted three books for sale on stusbooks.org after seeing a flier on campus advertising the site. He said the convenience of the site is appealing and he’s hoping for a good price on his books. Casas said he’s also looking for books he needs for the spring semester.

“I decided to use the site because I know how annoying shipping costs can be,” he said. “The transactions and delivery can all occur at your convenience.”

So far Casas hasn’t had any luck buying or selling, but he’s hoping he’ll see a better response as word spreads about the site.

Benning, a mechanical engineering senior, said the site also provides the potential for users to connect with other students who have taken the same class for advice or recommendations.

“If you’re buying a book from someone who took the class, you can ask questions about the class or the professor,” he said. “They might even have some old notes or tests that they might be willing to give you.”

Benning said he has been buying his engineering books from the same student every year. His supplier has always been one year ahead of him at CU, so he gets textbooks, notes and general advice on classes.

The creators said there’s not much in it for them other than the satisfaction of helping students beat the bookstore. But they would like to see the site grow and expand to other colleges in the future.

Otherwise, it’s a good resume builder for these soon-to-be graduates.

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