What to look for when buying your textbooks

It’s that time of year! As the new semester approaches, you’ll need to buy or rent your textbooks pretty soon (click here to get started). There are so many options for buying textbooks now that the task can seem overwhelming! Should you buy brand-new textbooks, or used textbooks? Should you buy them from a company like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or should you get them from your campus bookstore? How much money can you expect to spend on your textbooks this semester?

There’s no right or wrong answer to any of these questions. When it comes to buying textbooks, it ultimately comes down to what works best for you. In case you haven’t navigated the waters of buying textbooks yet, we’re here to help! You can click here to begin the process. In the meantime, keep these three things in mind:

  1. Buying vs. Renting–Something to consider when the time comes to purchase textbooks is that you don’t necessarily have to buy them. While many students choose to buy their textbooks for convenience, there are plenty of companies out there that offer textbook rentals instead. This may be more convenient for you if want to sell textbooks after the semester is over!
  2. New vs. Used–If you make the decision to buy your textbooks instead of renting them, you’ll have to decide if you want to buy a brand-new textbook or a used textbook. If you buy a brand-new textbook, it will be more expensive than a used textbook would be, but it will also likely be in better condition. This means that your likelihood of selling textbooks back is higher. On the other hand, if you buy a used textbook, you will probably save more money up front since a used textbook will be cheaper than a new one (use this website for some price lists).
  3. Probability of resale–If you buy a textbook with the intention of selling it back when the semester is over, make sure you take good care of it! You don’t want to treat a book badly and then expect to get a good price for it when the time comes to sell it again. Treat your books with respect and you will receive more money for them!

Try to keep these three points in mind as you begin the process of buying textbooks for your upcoming semester. It’s important to know what you should look for when you buy or rent your textbooks so that you can be certain to receive the most quality for your money!

BookScouter in 2016

Hello and Happy New Year! Alright, so we are a little late on our New Year’s greetings but we wanted to make sure all of our ducks were in a row before letting you know what’s in store for the coming year. Going into 2016, our New Year’s Resolution is to optimize the BookScouter experience. This means testing our system to ensure everything is running as smoothly as possible, streamlining the book buying system to ensure a hassle free experience for every vendor, and revamping our mobile service so that scouting on the go is simpler than ever.

In short, BookScouter will still largely operate the same, but with a few integral changes. Don’t expect any massive, revolutionary overhauls to our site in the coming months. We just want to make sure that the scouting experience is as enjoyable for our users as possible.

Most importantly, optimization means listening to you, the user. As we guide BookScouter into the future, we want you by our side, holding the roadmap. To make sure your voice is heard, we want to keep you all abreast of the goings on here at BookScouter more frequently than we previously have. We will be updating the blog more consistently in order to report our progress, explain any issues that may have occurred, and ask you all for feedback. We also plan on sending out a few emails with pertinent information to our users, so be on the lookout for those.

My name is Kurt Gloede – any of you that have filled out an email on our customer service page will probably recognize my name from your inbox. I have to thank you all immensely, having such a responsive and dedicated group of users has made customer service a hassle free experience for everyone. If you have any questions or concerns please let me know. Feel free to message us anytime and I will do my best to get back to you within one business day. We are all ears! Until then, from all of us at BookScouter, have a great 2016!

 

Happy Scouting,

Kurt Gloede

Help Get Books Into The Hands of Elementary School Kids

We’d like to ask BookScouter users to help make a difference in the lives of children in our home town of Athens, Georgia. We’ve sponsored a local charity called “Books for Keeps” for many years now. The charity provides free books to elementary school children so that they have the opportunity to read through their summer school break.

Studies have shown that students who continue to read through the summer months are more likely to graduate high school and be employed, as well as being more likely to earn a higher lifetime income. About 16% of students who are not reading proficiently by the end of the third grade do not graduate from high school on time, which is over 4 times the rate of students who are proficient readers. Books for Keeps helps kids keep reading, building a strong foundation for future education and life.

The founder of Books For Keeps, Melaney Smith, has been honored by L’Oreal Paris as one of “10 Women of Worth”. As part of the campaign, L’Oreal is accepting votes, and the winner receives a grant of $25k donated to their cause in addition to the $10k already won by being nominated. This would mean that Books For Keeps could expand from 10 to 25 schools in the next 5 years, donating books to an additional 800 children. This expansion will reach more students in Athens, as well as students in Atlanta and other rural schools throughout the state.

We invite all of our BookScouter users to go to the L’Oreal Paris site and vote for Melaney to make this possible! Remember, you can vote every day, and also be sure to like the Books for Keeps virtual Facebook event.

Thanks,
Brandon

Sell-Textbook 6% Buyback Special Offer

Great news everyone, for a limited time Sell-Textbook.com is offering customers the opportunity to earn 6% bonus cash on buybacks until September 13th, 2015 by using the code “Summer6” at the checkout.

Redemption Instructions

    1. Search your ISBN on BookScouter.com
    2. Locate Sell-Textbook and click “Sell”
    3. Continue adding books by following steps 1-2 (new books will automatically be added to your Sell-Textbook cart)
    4. When you’re ready to checkout, login to Sell-Textbook, create an account, or proceed via Guest checkout
    5. Type “Summer6″ (without quotes) into the box next to the “Apply Coupon” button
    6. Click “Apply Coupon” and watch your total increase by 6% (Make sure the coupon worked by verifying the price increase in the “Bonus” section right above the total)

That’s all! Just finish up the payment, shipping, and tracking options and you’ll receive an extra 6% on your buyback order! Then head back to BookScouter to rate your experience and share this great offer.

Recent Pricing Discrepancies

Over the past 40 hours BookScouter.com has experienced some pricing discrepancies for specific vendors, causing the price shown on BookScouter to not reflect the actual price the vendor was offering. While we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, we’re happy to say these issues have been resolved. We take pride in BookScouter being the best resource to sell books and because of this, we want to let you know why this happened.

There has been a longtime misconception that BookScouter buys books. In actuality, BookScouter.com is merely a price comparison site. We have no say in the prices offered for books. We use information given to us [not scraped] by each vendor and display that price on our price comparison page in real-time. As a result, when there is a price discrepancy on BookScouter.com, chances are it is the vendor providing misinformation and not BookScouter attempting to bait and switch users.

When we were first informed of a pricing discrepancy we quickly confirmed the source of the problem and informed the appropriate vendors of our findings. It was then the task of each vendor to find and resolve the issues from their end. Of course, they’ll always have our full cooperation in conducting any tests needed in order to more quickly identify and resolve the problem.

Through this hiccup [of which there will be more], we always appreciate our vigilant users who identify and detail the problem thoroughly. Of course, there are lessons to be learned for everyone, so I’d like to take this opportunity to remind users of an important disclaimer when using BookScouter.com.

“Reasonable attempts are made to make sure that the displayed pricing is accurate. However, you should confirm the price with each site before making any decisions.”

We always encourage users to trust the price on our vendors’ sites over that of the data seen on BookScouter.com. BookScouter requires a lot of moving parts involving data feeds, integrations, authentication, third-party services, and more. As such, it is a very fragile system that can and will experience an occasional problem. While we make every reasonable attempt to ensure things run smoothly all the time, it is inevitable that they will not.

In the event of an outage, hiccup, or something that just seems odd, please continue to report these problems through our contact page, Facebook, Twitter, or directly at support@bookscouter.com.

We apologize for any misinformation that may have flooded our users’ inboxes (BookScouter Deals Notifications), arbitrage buyers who hoped to turn a quick profit, and for sellers who were shocked to find the vendor prices much lower than anticipated. To the few of you who actually saw a price increase, you’re the silver lining in all this.

BookScouter has and always will be a price comparison site to help users make more educated book buying and selling decisions. The final decision, however, belongs to each user. We encourage all users to buy and sell responsibly and, when something doesn’t quite add up, consult the buying or selling vendor directly before making a decision.

Regards,
Dustin Checketts
President

The BookScouter Featured Vendor Box

BookScouter continues to grow in traffic every season. With this growth comes increased customer service inquiries. One of the more frequent inquiries we receive asks us for our recommendation to whom they should sell a specific book. Despite BookScouter user reviews and price comparisons, it became clear that users wanted a vendor recommendation from BookScouter.

This proves challenging when our recommendation might change based on the book you might have searched; so in true BookScouter fashion, we’re allowing data to tell you who we are most likely to recommend. Therefore, we conceptualized what we’re calling the “Featured Vendor Box”. This box is BookScouter.com’s recommended vendor for a particular book and will adjust dynamically for each individual book based on a key set of criteria.

The BookScouter Featured Vendor Box takes into account the following criteria to determine which vendor we show as our recommendation to sellers:

  • Status – Only vendors with Preferred status are eligible to appear in the Featured Vendor Box. If no preferred vendors qualify, the box will not appear.
  • Price – Price is often the first and most important factor to a seller; thus it is the most heavily weighed data point in our current revision.
  • Feedback** – We take into account a vendor’s BookScouter.com feedback score as means of quantifying the quality of service, as determined by BookScouter users.
  • Speed* – Speed favors vendors who pay sellers more promptly as an average measure of time from when the book shipped to when payment was disbursed.
  • Payment* – Vendors with more ways to pay sellers will appear more often than those with fewer ways of paying sellers, all other criteria being equal.
  • Shipping* – Vendors offering free shipping with more carriers will appear more often than those with fewer carriers, all other criteria being equal.

* Not yet implemented. ** Partially implemented using placeholder data.

There are many other criteria we could add to make a very complex and comprehensive algorithm, but we would like to to keep things simple and transparent. Because this is a fairly new feature, expect the Featured Vendor Box to undergo further tweaking and adjusting over the next several months. However, we’ll post updates here when changes are made so that 1) users can know we’re performing the same due diligence they would (or should) do before selling their books to a vendor, and 2) that vendors know what criteria they’re being ranked upon and have a clear plan of action to improve their chances at appearing in the BookScouter Featured Vendor Box.

NOTE: Registered users are able to hide the Featured Vendor Box so that the ISBN pricing table shows higher on the page, limiting or even eliminating the need to scroll to easily compare vendor prices. To do this, simply visit the “My Profile” page and opt to “hide” the Featured Vendor.

Happy scouting,
Dustin Checketts
President

BookByte Offering 5% Buyback Bonus

For a limited time and exclusively through BookScouter, BookByte is offering a 5% Buyback Bonus to any sale using the promo code “SCOUT5”. This offer is good through May 31, 2015.

Redemption Instructions

  1. Search your ISBN on BookScouter.com
  2. Locate BookByte and click “Sell”
  3. Continue adding books by following steps 1-2 (new books will automatically be added to your BookByte cart)
  4. When you’re ready to check out, login to BookByte, create an account, or proceed via Guest checkout
  5. Type “SCOUT5” (without quotes) into the “Have a Promo Code?” box below your “Order Summary”
  6. Click “Apply” and watch your total increase by 5%

Complete your payment options, shipping information, and optional tracking alerts and you’ve earned an extra 5% on your buyback order! Be sure to return to BookScouter.com to rate your experience and let others know about this limited time offer.

#1 Site to Sell Used Textbooks

BookScouter affiliate, Kyle Taylor, founder and editor of ThePennyHoarder.com, posted an article today on DailyFinance.com titled, “For an A+ in Selling Used Textbooks, Learn About These Sites“. BookScouter.com was mentioned as the number one resource for selling used textbooks. His excerpt of BookScouter is below.


BookScouter is a great site. I used it to make up to $750 a month selling textbooks, and depending on which books you have at hand, you can make some serious cash.

When you put a book’s ISBN into BookScouter, it scans a bunch of different book reselling sites and displays what each reseller is currently offering for that title. You get to pick the offer you like best and then ship your book directly to that reseller, who pays by PayPal or check.

To get an idea of what these different resellers offer, let’s test a random textbook: the seventh edition of “Principles of Microeconomics,” by N. Gregory Mankiw, ISBN 9781285165905. It was published in January 2014, and its publisher, Cengage Learning, gives $271.95 as the list price.

On, BookScouter, the highest offer came from RentText at $91.55, and the lowest offer was eTextShop at $41.25. Not bad, right? Here’s a little more information about BookScouter:

Pros:

  • The site compares offers from many different textbook resellers.
  • BookScouter [vendors] pay primarily by PayPal or check.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t share reseller guidelines on acceptable book condition. Instead, it routes you to the reseller’s website, where you’ll have to search for them. If you send in a book that is determined to be unacceptable, you won’t get paid.
  • According to their FAQ: “BookScouter is not very useful for selling rare, collectible or antique books.”

If you’d like to hear Kyle’s other four recommended sites for selling used textbooks, see the full article on DailyFinance.com. Or, if you want to keep up with other penny-pinching ideas, visit Kyle’s personal site, ThePennyHoarder.com.

BookScouter 2015 Roadmap

No doubt you’ve noticed many changes to the site over the past 90 days. These changes, albeit primarily cosmetic, have set the stage for many more exciting changes to BookScouter. To that end, I would like to take a moment to explain why we made the change, what has changed so far, and what changes are yet to come.

Why the changes?

Long story short, BookScouter.com was beginning to show its age. It’s last cosmetic update was over 4 years ago in April 2010; and since then, many new technologies, practices, and advancements have been made to improve the speed and flexibility of websites. Prior to the 2010 update, BookScouter remained in its original form for over 3 years.

BookScouter’s tools have also been showing signs of age. The Bulk Lookup Tool was introduced in July 2011 and hasn’t seen many updates since; mostly fixes for when the service was down. As more Pro users have come to rely upon the Bulk Lookup Tool, we’ve simply spun up more servers to handle the load – still using much of the original code and design from 2011.

Lastly, our audience has grown. When BookScouter was originally introduced in 2007, it aimed to solve a problem for college students wanting to sell back their used book after the school semester. Today, BookScouter is used by many small businesses, bookstores, online resellers, and non-profit and government organizations.

What has changed?

Thus far, most changes have been cosmetic. Beginning with the BookScouter logo, we toned down the bright red and dark black and softened those colors to the dark gray and reddish-orange you see now. The style now represents a more streamlined look that is more on trend with popular designs such as the new iOS 7.x, Windows 8, etc.

Next, our audience has broadened and BookScouter.com is now being viewed more frequently on smartphones and tablets. This meant a responsive design that adjusted and optimized the content based on screen size. So now BookScouter.com adjusts to an optimized design for specific resolutions (widths – 320px, 480px, 568px, 768px, 1024px, 1224px) while still adjusting for custom widths anywhere in-between.

Finally, over 70% of BookScouter.com’s pageviews are the ISBN search results page (prices.php). This meant we had to give that page a lot of attention. In order to guide users to the comparison process, we emphasized the SELL action by the use of a button, and cleaned up the clutter of Yes and No with icons that quickly depict payment and shipping methods. Additionally, we added a visual element to each vendor, the vendor icon, that can help users identify a familiar brand that they may have used before, as well as add more color to the page.

We weren’t fully satisfied with these changes so we continued to research other search results pages of highly successful companies and finally conceptualized what we’re calling the “Featured Vendor Box”.  This box is BookScouter.com’s suggested vendor for a particular book and will adjust dynamically for each individual book based on a key set of criteria. This criteria is quantified and processed by what we’ll call our “algorithm” – just to be cool.

The BookScouter buyback algorithm currently takes into account the following criteria to determine the vendor that will appear in the Featured Vendor Box:

  • Status – Only vendors with Preferred status are eligible to appear in the Featured Vendor Box. If no preferred vendors qualify, the box will not appear.
  • Price – Price is often the first and most important factor to a seller; thus it is the most heavily weighed data point in our current revision.
  • Feedback** – We take into account a vendor’s BookScouter.com feedback score as means of quantifying the quality of service, as determined by BookScouter users.
  • Speed* – Speed favors vendors who pay sellers more promptly as an average measure of time from when the book shipped to when payment was disbursed.
  • Payment* – Vendors with more ways to pay sellers will appear more often than those with fewer ways of paying sellers, all other criteria being equal.
  • Shipping* – Vendors offering free shipping with more carriers will appear more often than those with fewer carriers, all other criteria being equal.

* Not yet implemented. ** Partially implemented using placeholder data.

There are many other criteria we could add to make a very complex and comprehensive algorithm, but we would like to to keep things simple and transparent. Because this is a brand new feature, expect the Featured Vendor Box “algorithm” to undergo ongoing tweaking and adjusting over the next several months. However, we’ll post updates when changes are made so that 1) users can know we’re performing the same due diligence they would (or should) do before selling their books to a vendor, and 2) that vendors know what criteria they’re being ranked upon and have a clear plan of action to improve their chances at appearing in the BookScouter Featured Vendor Box.

NOTE: Registered users are able to hide the Featured Vendor Box so that the ISBN pricing table shows higher on the page, limiting or even eliminating the need to scroll to easily compare vendor prices. To do this, simply visit the “My Profile” page and opt to “hide” the Featured Vendor.

What changes are coming?

If there’s one thing BookScouter has to get right, it’s the accuracy, availability, and reliability of data that gives book sellers the information they require to make an informed decision about where to sell their books. So that’s where we started with the changes – BookScouter’s core service of searching a single ISBN and returning a result from dozens of vendors wanting to buy that book and the price they’re willing to pay.

Our first round of improvements tackled these core services, but with those now behind us, we’re ready to make improvements to the other tools and features that supplement its core service… and introduce a few new ones as well. Below is our list of features and tools that will be receiving some updates or be introduced to BookScouter users in 2015:

  • More robust feedback system
  • New iOS & Android mobile apps
  • Improved vendor pages & relations
  • BookScouter Deals & Deals Notifications
  • Buy books using BookScouter
  • Buy & Sell CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, video games, and other media using BookScouter

Note that the above items could be placed on hold or cancelled at any time, for any reason. I simply want to publicly state our roadmap to keep myself and others accountable for our current list of goals. Because of the length, I won’t go into detail just yet on any one item, but will reveal more details as we near the introduction of any of these new features or changes. As always, if you have questions, suggestions, or comments, please contact us.

Happy scouting,
Dustin Checketts
President

[Re]introducing BookScouter Mobile

BookScouter Mobile iconTucked away in the recesses of BookScouter.com there once was a mobile-optimized site found at m.bookscouter.com. Having rebranded this mobile-optimized version of BookScouter.com with the new BookScouter design I’d like to re-introduce this tool.

BookScouter Mobile is a lightweight version of BookScouter.com with only the minimum required information for users to make buying decisions on the go. BookScouter Mobile also has the capability to use a smartphone’s camera to scan a book’s ISBN for quick and easy searching while on location at bookstores and other popular scouting locations/events. To take advantage of this feature, users must install the free Pic2Shop app (compatible with all iOS and Android devices).

BookScouter Mobile is not meant to replace the existing iOS and Android BookScouter apps. However, m.bookscouter.com is a great alternative for users while we reengineer our mobile apps for broader compatibility, optimized use, and performance. Stay tuned for more updates on our mobile apps.

I want to thank you for your continued support while we work to improve BookScouter and its many features. Stay tuned for our 2015 roadmap where we’ll reveal more changes that lie in store for BookScouter.

Cheers,
Dustin Checketts
President