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Type of site
Online retailer
Available in English
Owner A Book Company, LLC
Alexa rank Negative increase 59,189 (June 2012)[1]
Commercial Yes
Launched 1999
Current status Active is a Lexington, Kentucky-based retailer, founded in 1999. Its products and services include new and used textbooks, ebooks, study materials and bookstore management solutions. The company partners with various colleges, universities and K-12 schools to provide a Virtual Bookstore Program.[2]


In April 1999, raised $49 million during its first round of financing.[3] This funding was possible largely in part to non-tech entrepreneurs such as Wendy's founder Dave Thomas and James Patterson, founder of Long John Silver's. Former Governor of Kentucky Wallace Wilkinson, founder of Wallace's Book Stores Inc., was the driving force behind the launch of[3] All told, the internet company raised $91 million from 429 investors.[4] Fueled by these funds, company executives and developers began meeting on January 20, 1999, determined to launch before fall classes began at U.S. colleges and universities that year.

Dot-com bubble, bankruptcy and reorganization[edit]

The bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000, followed a year later by the collapse of Wilkinson's business empire, robbed of momentum, financial support and most importantly, its source of high-margin used textbooks at a critical time in the growth of the company. reorganized under Chapter 11 bankruptcy[4] and was purchased by A Book Company, LLC. Matt Montgomery, formerly Vice President for Fulfillment at was named President and CEO.

In the years following its re-emergence, the company has become an innovator in the development and distribution of textbooks and learning material through their online storefront.



  • Textbooks, new and used
  • Textbook rentals
  • eTextbooks and eBooks
  • Books


  • Marketplace for buying/selling books
  • Virtual Bookstore Program
  • Textbook buybacks


Oracle, a key participant in the group that built the site, named one of its "Stars of the Internet" in 1999.[5] Recipients of this reward were recognized for their innovative e-business practices and for using leading edge technologies to create new, innovative business models.

In 2000, was honored as an "iForce Hero in the Dot.Com Age" by Sun Microsystems.[6] was given this accolade because of the company's ability to create and maximize e-commerce opportunities. That same year Money Magazine named the company its favorite online textbook site.[7]'s original marketing campaign drew praise, winning 13 New York ADDY Awards as a result of its work with advertising agency Devito/Verdi.[8] The winning marketing campaign used traditional and iconic collegiate images – eating gold fish,[9] burping the alphabet,[10] lava lamps[11]– to promote access to lower-cost used textbooks. television advertisements were featured in articles in TV Guide and Newsweek. According to research done by The Marketing Workshop, Inc. of Atlanta, 80 percent of college students recognized the brand less than six months after its launch.[12]

In both 2012 and 2013, was presented the Readers' Choice Award for "Best Website for Buying College Textbooks".[13]


Brick and mortar college bookstores remain a significant factor in textbook sales and materials. However, as the profile and demographics of the typical college student have changed so has way they seek and acquire their learning materials.

As campuses continue to see shifts towards virtual campuses and distance learning, it is becoming more popular for institutional-based and independent college bookstores to host a companion online virtual store.

Other colleges are opting to avoid the overhead costs associated with operating a physical store and are relying solely on online fulfillment for bookstore sales, often outsourcing that function to a 3rd party provider such as the Virtual Bookstore Program, Akademos or[14], and remain leaders among the online providers of books and materials. Long gone are the days when a student's only source of course materials was controlled by his or her college or university and available only at that institution's brick and mortar bookstore.


  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  2. ^ " Virtual Bookstore Program". 
  3. ^ a b Moukheiber, Zina (6 June 1999). "". Forbes. 
  4. ^ a b Tatge, Mark (20 August 2001). "Where's the Bucks?". Forbes. 
  5. ^ " Selected as a Star of E-business" (Press release). 16 November 1999. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  6. ^ " Honored as an iForce Hero in the Age" (Press release). 15 May 2000. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  7. ^ " Executive Discovers Formula for Virtual Success" (Press release). 24 May 2000. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  8. ^ " Dominates New York ADDYs" (Press release). 4 April 2000. Retrieved 29 July 2015. "Agency Awards - DeVito/Vderdi". 
  9. ^ " Goldfish Commercial". 
  10. ^ " Alphabet Burping Commercial". 
  11. ^ " Lava Lamps Commercial". 
  12. ^ " Raises Brand Awareness to 80% in Less than 6 Months" (Press release). 4 February 2000. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  13. ^ " 2012 Winner of Best Site for Buying Textbooks". " 2013 Winner of Best Site for Buying Textbooks". 
  14. ^ "UMASS Amherst Selects Amazon as Bookstore Provider".