iBookStore: Carry a Discount Bookstore in your Pocket

Price: Free    Score: 9/10    By Lara VukelichiBookStore

If you are a college student, you need iBookStore. It’s free. Go ahead, download it now – I’ll wait.

Speaking as a master’s student, this app by Campusbooks.com Inc. seems pretty invaluable.  The price of textbooks can quickly escalate into the hundreds of dollars per semester, and if you’re like me then you’ve long since figured out that your campus bookstore isn’t the cheapest option. It seems most students have started shopping for textbooks on the Internet.

iBookStore affords you the ability to search for textbooks in a variety of ways. The main screen has a simple search default, and you can also choose to perform an advanced search based on author, title, and/or ISBN number.

I am literally squirming to tell you about the next feature of this app, because it is the coolest thing my iPhone has ever done. Say you’re out at your local campus bookstore, and you’re scoping out your personal book list titles.  Sadly, other students have purchased any used copies that were available, and you don’t want to pay for a brand new one. To be certain that you purchase the exact book that you need later online, this app turns your phone into a book scanner. Simply go to the main screen, tap on “Scan ISBN,” and find the ISBN barcode on the textbook. A red line will appear on the screen; once you place the lens of your iPhone a few inches above the barcode, the line will turn green and the information will be captured onto your phone.

The author, title, edition, etc. of the book scanned will be saved in your phone for future reference; after the first use of the scan feature, clicking “Scan ISBN” will bring up a scan history.  You can also immediately search online retailers from within the app to find the book and purchase it on the spot. Am I the only book nerd that is totally amazed by this feature? Ok, fine, but I am totally scanning books now whenever I get a chance.

iBookStore also allows you to search for books through the top titles in a variety of categories and by awards won (i.e. Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award).  If you choose to search all books, you can narrow them down by bestsellers or “Hot New Releases.”

Once you have pulled up a title, you can automatically browse a list of similar titles and other works by the same author. Book covers are also presented. The one glitch I found in the app was that when you find a specific title and click on the “More Titles” icon, the app closes out entirely. However, there was no problem flipping through the list of related titles that comes up automatically.

At the bottom of each title you can also select a “Buy It” or “Sell It” icon. As the names suggest, these icons will pull up a list of online retailers that allow you to buy and sell books. The merchant is listed, along with the going rate for that particular book. You can go directly to the merchant’s site and buy or sell without leaving the app.

While browsing titles, you can also add books to a wishlist and a collection. Both of these compiled lists can be viewed by selecting “My Bookbag” from the bottom toolbar.

This app is a must have for anyone attending college, and can also be useful for avid readers in general. For a free app, it certainly delivers a lot of features.

iBookStore is compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch and requres iPhone OS 3.1 or later.

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