Introducing Packback: a new way to buy textbooks

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JANUARY 26, 2015

Textbook! Textbook! Read all about it. Semester after semester we scramble from Free & For Sale to the Cal Book Store to score the last used copy of the UGBA 10 textbook. We bargain and haggle tirelessly to snag the best deal. At the Clog, we aren’t textbook wizards, but we do have an idea up our sleeve.

Packback, a new “movement” funded by Mark Cuban and created by four students from Illinois State University “aims to help college students save hundreds of dollars in textbooks each year, whether they are buying or selling,” states Michael Kim, the UC Berkeley Packback brand ambassador.

With an “on-demand” approach, the ISU students created the “one-day e-textbook rental model,” recalls Jessica Tenuta, the co-founder and head of design at Packback.  Not only would the company’s one-day e-rentals be $5 or less per day, they would also be “rent-to-own” so that no student could ever spend more on one-day e-rentals than the semester purchase price of the e-textbook, asserts Tenuta.

After founding the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity chapter at ISU with her three friends, Kasey Gandham, Mike Shannon and Nick Currier, Tenuta soon found that the “expensive ‘required’ textbooks were often used only a few times in a semester in many classes, while in a few they were used every day.” She, along with her friends, figured that with the growing popularity of “micro transactional purchases” and the fact that “up to 60% of the $8 billion higher education textbook market is dominated by the used book market,” they could directly license content from textbook publishers, ultimately helping both students and the publishers themselves.

Not only does Packback offer the $5 textbook rentals, but it also offers the real-time price comparison tool that “instantly compares prices from major book retailers from across the web” as well as the sell tool, helping students find the most “safe and reliable retailer” that offers the “highest buy back price” for old textbooks. Don’t worry about the shipping costs, either, as Packback will either find a way to ship your books for free, or you can “look forward to receiving a check in the mail,” Kim says.

So far, nearly 95,000 students have “joined the affordable textbook movement,” purchasing $5 e-textbook rentals from PackBack. For your first free e-textbook rental fee, use this link to receive a unique promo code.

Already have all of your textbooks for this semester, but you’re still looking for a job? You can also become a PackBack brand ambassador.

Happy textbook hunting!

Contact Daniella Wenger at 


FEBRUARY 23, 2015