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Alibris Research Finds Economy Pressures Driving More People Back to School, Looking to Save with Used Textbooks

The online book, music, and movie marketplace helps students and other shoppers to significantly save on textbooks during economic recession

EMERYVILLE, CA—January 12, 2009—A survey conducted by Alibris, the Internet's premier independent marketplace for new and used books, music, and movies, shows more book buyers going back to school, becoming increasingly focused on buying lower-priced used textbooks, and finding their educational books online. In the midst of an economic recession, back-to-school shoppers of all varieties are turning to Alibris for discounted prices that save them hundreds of dollars over campus-bookstore and publisher list prices.

The survey was sent to 38,000 Alibris subscribers deemed to be in an education oriented segment; a total of 937 recipients responded, which comprised a 2.5% response rate. The respondents expressed significantly increased interests in educational pursuits in 2009 versus 2008. Largely attributed to concerns about the current economic recession, these trends are illustrated in the following survey highlights:

  • 13% more respondents plan to take educational classes, seminars, etc. in 2009, compared to 2008.
  • Compared to 2008, 82% of respondents expect their educational book spending to either increase or stay the same in 2009.
  • Compared to their 2008 purchases, 16% more respondents plan to buy up to 100% of their educational books online in 2009.
  • Compared to 2008, 64% more respondents plan to buy up to 100% of their educational books as used copies in 2009.
  • 30% of respondents expect to save between $100 and $300 on educational books in 2009, while 37% expect to save up to $100.

"With education expenses at an all-time high and economic uncertainty in the headlines every day, everyone wants to make the most of their income," said Brian Elliott, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alibris. "The average student spends $900 on textbooks each year—that's about 17% of tuition and fees. Our recent survey confirms that students want to reduce their textbook outlay as much as possible."

Elliott continued by explaining that the Alibris marketplace's sellers and buyers maintain a mutually beneficial relationship. "Our independent sellers list hundreds of thousands of textbooks and other educational books at deeply discounted prices at this time of the year, which attracts students and other educational shoppers in droves. We help those sellers find students through Alibris and Alibris U.K. as well as through partners like Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Chapters/Indigo in Canada." Elliott explained that those savings-focused consumers generate significant back-to-school sales for Alibris sellers and partners, making January one of the marketplace's biggest sales months each year and encouraging sellers to continue offering discounted books, music, and movies during the next back-to-school period.

In one example featured prominently in Alibris's New and Used Textbooks section, a college science major could save an astounding $452 over list prices on a typical textbook bundle. With more than 100 million new, hard-to-find, and used books, CDs, and DVDs—including the Internet's best selection of new and used textbooks—Alibris and its 12,000 independent sellers offer everyone from college students to homeschool parents the opportunity to find similar savings every semester.

While new and returning college students comprise a significant portion of back-to-school shoppers and purchase a diverse range of educational materials, the online book-buying market includes a growing number of educational consumers looking for bargains in wide-ranging genres.

  • Graduate and undergraduate students seeking textbooks, classic literature, reference books, and test-prep guides for their college and university courses
  • Homeschool families looking for classroom textbooks, reference books, and homeschooling guides on curricula and pedagogy
  • High school, middle school, and elementary school teachers searching for teaching aids to bolster their curricula and pedagogy
  • College and university professors tracking down scarce, hard-to-find scholarly texts
  • Continuing education students seeking course materials while enrolled at community colleges and vocational colleges
  • Adult students seeking reference materials while attending self-improvement courses at community adult-education centers

About Alibris

Alibris is the premiere online destination for new and used books, music items, and movies, as well as rare and out-of-print titles. We connect people who love books, music, and movies to the best independent sellers from 45 countries around the world. Our proprietary technology and advanced logistics allow us to offer more than 100 million used, new, and out-of-print titles to consumers, libraries, and retailers, which include, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Borders, Chapters/Indigo, and Founded in 1998 and acquired by Oak Hill Capital Partners in 2006, Alibris was named a "Fast 50" and a "Technology Fast 500" growth business by Deloitte in 2005. Alibris is a registered trademark.

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