Let’s face it, by the start of the year, many students’ wallets are covered in cobwebs after buying the first semester’s worth of textbooks. 

Money-savvy students may choose to rent theirs off of third-party textbook sellers like Chegg.com or Amazon. But is there a cheaper option?

This is where Packback comes into play.

Packback is a success story from ABC’s hit-reality competition series “Shark Tank” according to the Wall Street Journal. According to abc.go.com, Packback was founded by three Illinois State University graduates, Kasey Gandham, Nick Currier and Mike Shannon. Gandham, Currier and Shannon understood the monetary strain of buying textbooks and decided to take their idea to “Shark Tank” in March this year.

According to the Chiago Tribune, the trio’s idea attained $250,000 in funding from one of the “sharks” [investor-judges] Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Since the success of appearing on “Shark Tank,” Packback has accumulated over 2,500 online textbooks for students to rent, according to Annabel Scheer, a Keene State College sophomore. Scheer is a Packback Book intern and representative who explained her share of the new online textbook-rental service.

“Since it is a start-up company there are some books that are, depending on your major, that they might not have. There are eight major publishers in the country that you need to sign up with to get all these textbooks. Packback only has six major publishers, so two major publishers are missing. So if they do not have your book they will offer the student a detailed list of all the retailers that do have [the book], plus other various websites that will tell you the price of the book. Kind of like a comparison and contrast strategy,” Scheer said.

Scheer continued, “Packback seeks to provide a more affordable rental approach for students. There is Amazon, Chegg and Book Renter but the difference between us [Packback] and them is that you can get textbook rentals for one day only if you need it.”

This type of accessibility comes in handy for students, not just for easy access on their computer, tablet or phone but the low cost Packback provides, according to their website. Most textbooks that are provided on the site only cost three to five dollars per-day depending on the textbook.

“I have spent at least $350 this semester. My calculus book was about $150 but I bought that last year … If I was to ever to use Packback I would use it for a gen. ed. class … I would choose the cheapest thing possible,” Stephen Doherty, a KSC junior majoring in chemistry, said.

“I think I spent around nearly $300,” freshman Dylan Hoffman, who is double majoring in art and film, said.

“I know I spent at least two-hundred dollars,” senior Jane Plummer, elementary education and sociology major, said.

Since its debut the online textbook rental website has gained over 68,000 users that have signed up and used its services        and the number is growing each day.


Angela Scionti can be contacted at ascionti@keene-equinox.com.

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