BigWords. com G s Bust
Edward Nawotka -- 11/6/00

In the latest high-profile dot-com disaster, the largest online textbook retailer,, closed October 20. After running through the $30 million in funding it raised in June from a variety of big-name investors, including NBC, WPP Group, GR Financial Assurance and others, it failed to raise further capital or find a buyer. With the closure, 70 full-time employees in California and 30 part-time warehouse workers in Kentucky have lost their jobs.

As recently as August, Dick Hackenberg, v-p for consumer marketing at, told PW, "Everyone is being very careful. After the March downturn, it was as if everyone said, 'Oh, my God. We have to be very conservative.' Our goal right now is to get profitable. BigWords should be profitable by early next year." Founded in late 1998, BigWords generated sales of approximately $14 million and had 800,000 unique visitors per month.

The recent news throughout the online textbook retail industry hasn't been good. On August 15, closed down and became part of the site. Varsity Group (, another textbook retailer, is still under threat of being de-listed from the Nasdaq and is changing its business plan from an online textbook e-retailer to a college marketing service.

Laura Nakoneczny, spokes-person for the National Association of College Stores, told PW, "It's sad, but it just g s to prove that college students really prefer the bricks-and-clicks approach. The most successful textbook retailers will be those that can combine online and bricks-and-mortar retailing."