Online company takes the stress and waste out of buying textbooks

    Textbook-hunting will get a lot easier next fall.

    Koofers, Inc., a social learning company launched in 2008, hopes to provide their services to Northwestern students to help them decide which textbooks are worth buying.

    According to Koofers, college students frequently do not use the purchased textbooks required for classes.

    In fact, Koofers’ data, collected from 76,757 course reviews by students at 357 universities over the past three years show that during the semester, students never use the assigned textbook 14 percent of the time.

    Yet, the college textbook market generates more than $10 billion annually, meaning that students waste about $1.4 billion on books they never use.

    “We are surprised at how high this number is,” said Glynn LoPresti, CEO of Koofers, in a press release. “As a social learning company, we believe this is critical insight for our students and their academic needs. Our service,, assists students with many facets of their college experience. If textbooks go unused this frequently, that’s something students really deserve to know.”

    Koofers is a social learning company that “fosters intercollegiate collaboration by enabling students to upload their study materials for free and public access,” said Monica Lins, Koofers’ communication director.

    Students at Northwestern were not too surprised by Koofers’ findings, having had personal experiences where textbooks were untouched by some professors. Fabiano Leal, SESP freshman, took an Introduction to International Relations course last quarter that required three books. Over the course of the quarter, however, Leal deemed them to essentially be “optional” readings.

    “The textbooks were rarely referenced, and I feel that I could have gotten by without purchasing the textbooks at all,” Leal said.

    In defense of the professors, some textbooks are intended to serve as references for students to gain a solid foundation of the course material. Professor Victoria DeFrancesco, who teaches this quarter’s American Government and Politics course, was upfront with her students about the role of the textbook in her class, stating that she will rarely reference the textbook in class, but it is an essential supplement to the course.

    “The textbook allows students with different backgrounds in political science to all have a solid base of knowledge that I can work with,” DeFrancesco said. “In my class, I try to add the spice and twist of contemporary politics and today’s news to concepts learned in the textbook, bridging the two realms of information together.”

    For students, purchasing required textbooks, only to find that their required status is relative, is seen as an irreversible waste of money. In the eyes of bookstores’ buy-back services, once a book is purchased, its value depreciates immediately.

    According to Lins, Koofers currently has a limited offering at Northwestern, but the company is hoping to launch the full Koofers service for Northwestern students in fall. Their services include a schedule maker, professor ratings and grading histories, a textbook center and mobile apps.


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