The Booklist: New start-up helps students find best textbook deals

TIRED of spending a fortune on textbooks, Oz Akdeniz and Tom McLeod set up an online comparison service for books and textbooks to help students find the best deals. Hayden Waugh taps into the brains behind The Booklist. 

Booklist founders Tom and Oz

Oz Akdeniz and Tom McLeod are the founders of The Booklist, an online comparison service for books and textbooks to help students find the best deals.

Cash-strapped students are among the most price-sensitive consumers, but how much savings can one hope to make when it comes to buying textbooks?

According to The Booklist founders Oz Akdeniz and Tom Mcleod, textbook prices have risen annually by 15 per cent over the past 10 years, and the average student now forks out some $1000 a year on books.

It’s a price they claim to be able to shave by 35 per cent through their digital start-up, which in a nutshell, is a free online comparison service for books and textbooks. The site searches more than 20 online retailers to help consumers find the best price, the quickest delivery, which store has that publication in stock and what their offer is.

The pair traded in their corporate suits mid last year when they realised they had an “idea on their hands”.

Oz says the idea was spawned when his former colleague and now business partner was headed back to university to complete a Masters degree at RMIT.

“When you’re spending anywhere up to $650 on books per year, (that moment when you realise) that you may not use or aren’t able to re-sell because there’s going to be new editions out, that’s the breaking point,” says Oz.

“Tom and I thought – there’s got to be an easier way of doing this.

It was just a matter of solving a problem that we had ourselves and finding a way of putting the thought of – hey, this could be really useful for other students as well – in practice.

“There was a gap in the market… and it was just a matter of solving a problem that we had ourselves and finding a way of putting the thought of – hey, this could be really useful for other students as well – in practice.”

The Booklist doesn’t host advertisements, or favour one publication over the other, says Oz.

The site earns the trust of its users by simply “spitting out” the cheapest result.

The Booklist website allows users to search by title or ISBN, as well as compare between editions.

The Booklist website allows users to search by title or ISBN, as well as compare between editions.

Consumers can search for books by title or ISBN  (International Standard Book Number) – a unique ID assigned to every book in the world that has been published, as well as compare prices between older and newer editions.

As a saving tip, Oz says the differences between a seventh and eight edition of a textbook for example, could be relatively minimal.

“They (publishers) recycle a lot of the material, make a few minor updates, and they’re able to put something out there,” he says.

“So… if someone’s a little cost-sensitive they might perhaps check with their lecturer first (before deciding which edition to buy).”

The Booklist has also begun working with student societies to customise special landing pages with book listings for specific courses. Savings per book, according to Oz, have fallen somewhere between the 38 per cent and 43 per cent mark.

Oz and Tom are hopeful of The Booklist’s future – the site recently experienced an exponential growth in traffic with the start of the new semester, and there’s been plenty of positive reviews.

“The feedback we’ve received is along the lines of, ‘Yes, this is a valuable resource that will help students save time and money on the both the research and the study.'” says Oz.

For more information about Oz and Tom’s digital venture, visit thebooklist.com.au.

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