Illustration: Joe Lai, City on a Hill Press
Illustration: Joe Lai, City on a Hill Press

With the price of school textbooks these days, throwing down a couple of Benjamins at Baytree Bookstore each quarter is not unusual for UC Santa Cruz students.

In an attempt to save money, some seek out other options outside the trajectory of Baytree Bookstore. Others just don’t have the time to look elsewhere and, in turn, spend more on school textbooks than they have to.

Responding to the frustration of Slugs, a former UC Santa Cruz business major named David Miller launched in December 2008.

This comes as the first one-stop shop for students to save money. Its name brings back memories of Slug Books Co-op, an independent bookstore that closed in November 2006 due to financial hardships. Although the Slug Books Co-op and have the same premise, they are completely separate entities.

The “first ever university-specific textbook comparison engine” is designed to make the search for low-priced textbooks more efficient by comparing prices between two online book sellers, Alibris and Amazon; Chegg, an online book rental website; and Baytree Bookstore. Through the “Student Bulletin” feature, registered users can post their own textbook advertisements and sell directly to other users at no cost.

Here’s SlugBooks at work: At Baytree Bookstore, one can buy a used copy of “Psychology and Life” for over $100 with taxes. On Slugbooks, one can access Alibris, which sells “Psychology and Life” for $62, or make a fellow Slug richer by answering to a local advertisement requesting $74.

After completing her first textbook purchase via SlugBooks, first-year Lauren Sakioka from College Nine claims the site was efficient. “Once you find the book you’re looking for it’s pretty basic,” Sakioka said. “I can see myself using [Slugbooks] again.”

After comparing prices on Slugbooks, Sakioka said she spent almost 50 percent less on her writing textbook than she would have at Baytree Bookstore. Through purchases like Sakioka’s, Slugbooks generates revenues from a small percentage of the profits made by affiliated websites.

In the future, Slugbooks hopes to expand operations by increasing access to more major online book retailers. “We want to provide our users with as many options as possible,” Miller said.