So, how ’bout this?: textbook comparison shopping in your pocket. iBookstore is an iPhone app that’ll let you scan in a book’s barcode right there in the store and then see rough prices for it online.

Now, when you’re in the bookstore, you can know for sure that you’re getting ripped off. That’s actually kind of my problem with it. Duh — we know that it’s cheaper to buy textbooks online than in a bookstore. Unless you’re at a garage sale or some other strange book-buying situation, there’s no need to check. I can tell you right now, without even looking, that all of your textbooks will be cheaper online.

Actually — here’s how you could use iBookstore in an actual college bookstore: 

  1. Enter bookstore. 
  2. Approach line of people buying books. 
  3. Scan students’ books before they checkout.
  4. Tell them exactly how much of an idiot they are for buying a book in the bookstore. 

The other problem is that the ISBN scanner doesn’t work all the time. At least, it only worked on one of four different textbooks I tried in multiple lighting situations. Even if it worked 100%, most book stores slather on a huge proprietary barcode sticker on their used books, which covers the old one. (I doubt it’s to prevent such scanning, but I suspect it’s for some other evil purpose.)

If you have those problems, you can still enter the title/author manually, but that’s way less badass, especially when you’re harassing a whole line of angry book-buyers.