New UH Textbook Price Lookup Tool Asks Students to ‘Dare to Compare’

The University of Hawaii is now offering a new tool at each of its 10 campus bookstores that allows students to compare UH textbook prices with those offered by the university’s top competitors, such as Amazon and Half.com. 

The "Verba" software tool, which was started by a group of recent Harvard graduates, is available on the UH bookstore website and can be accessed by all kinds of devices, including tablets and smartphones. The application is already being used by more than 350 campus bookstores, according to UH. 

"We are almost daring them to compare us to those that are out there," said Tricia Ejima, a UH bookstore administrator, in a video news release that was published yesterday. “What we want to showcase is that we are reasonable and we are here for them.”

The video release also includes interviews with two students who say they were surprised by how cheap the UH’s prices stacked up against those on other websites.

"It gives me peace of mind to know that we are getting reasonable prices at the bookstore and it’s also more convenient being from the Big Island to buy it right away here than have it shipped home," said UH Manoa student Jeremy Tomono.

The Chronicle of Higher Education more than two years ago wrote about emerging services such as Verba, describing them as a response to the increasingly complex landscape of student textbook options, from new versus used to purchase versus lease. The article noted that, while data shows students are likely to choose the school bookstore over a competitor, competitors such as Amazon offer a small commission to Verba when the students do click through to the retailers’ links. 

Photo: A student uses the new UH textbook comparison tool. (Courtesy of UH video)

— Alia Wong

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