Textbook Companies Want to Shut Down This Plugin That Helps Students Find Cheaper Books

The price of textbooks has shot up in recent years, increasing by a ridiculous 82% in just the past decade alone.

Software developers and recent college grads Peter Frank and Ben Halpern experienced the pain of expensive textbooks firsthand, and decided to create a service that helped students find the best prices on books.

So Frank and Halpern designed a Google Chrome plugin called Occupy the Bookstore that automatically pulls up prices from a number of different textbook vendors (like Amazon and Chegg, for example) when a student searches for a book on their school bookstore’s website.

The GIF below shows the plugin at work:

occupy booksBut while college students are certainly celebrating the opportunity to save some cash, not everybody is happy about the plugin.

Follett is one of North America’s largest textbook chains. The $2.7 billion company serves as the official bookstore for more than 1700 colleges across the United States and Canada.

According to Frank and Halpern, Follett hasn’t taken to kindly to their new plugin, and is threatening legal action if they don’t shut the service down. Answering questions in a Reddit AMA (ask-me-anything) session, the plugin’s designers said,

“[Follett] effectively asked us to remove the plugin, stating that they’d ‘need to involve their legal team’ if we didn’t comply. A few days later, they told us that ‘we will have to take legal action’ if we don’t remove it by the deadline.”


The pair’s response was awesome. Again, from their AMA:

“Instead of complying, we rebuilt the extension from the ground up and re-branded it as #OccupyTheBookstore, as the user is literally occupying their website to find cheaper deals.”


Well played guys!

You can read the full Reddit AMA here.

BONUS: Why are textbooks becoming so expensive in the first place? Higher education expert Ethan Senack sat down with attn.com last September to try to answer that very question. During the interview, Senack said,

“Textbooks are so expensive because professors assign specific editions and just five publishers have a lock on the market. That means they’re able to drive up prices without fear of market competitors. The content of some courses changes, but not nearly enough to justify brand new print editions—sometimes every two years—that carry such high prices.”


You can read that full interview here.


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