August 29, 2007, 12:00 AM

College students can text message AbeBooks for textbook prices

If AbeBooks has its way, college students might soon be comparing textbook prices by cell phone text messages – from college bookstores.

Text messaging-dependent college students now can compare textbook prices by using their cell phones to contact AbeBooks.com Inc. By using TXT ABE, AbeBooks.com’s new text message service, students can get the web-only book dealer’s textbook prices in seconds, the company says.

Here’s how it works: Students text the book’s ISBN, for International Standard Book Number, from the back cover to ABEBKS, short code 223257. They will receive a reply in less than 60 seconds, AbeBooks says, listing the lowest price for a new copy of their textbook.

If the student decides to buy the book, they reply to the price comparison message and insert “fwd” and their e-mail address. AbeBooks.com, No. 70 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, then replies to the e-mail address with a link to the web page where the book is listed for sale. The student can buy it after logging on to their PC.

The key to the price comparison is the ISBN. “The Internet makes shopping around very easy, but many students have difficulty comparing textbook prices before visiting the bookstore because ISBNs are missing from reading lists,” says Richard Davies at AbeBooks.com. “By harnessing the accessibility of the Internet and cell-phones, we’re going to show that there are affordable alternatives to the sky-high list prices for textbooks.”

The text message feature works with a range of cell phone carriers, including AT&T;, Cellular One, Verizon, Nextel, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Boost, Alltel and Sprint. Each provider’s standard text messaging fees apply.

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