Like many e-tailers, Bigwords.com bit the dust in 2000. After declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the site abruptly shut down after trying a last-ditch effort to get people to buy "gear" -- everything from backpacks to clothing to Razor scooters. This left many people who had accrued store credit, including myself, SOL. It also shut off the lifeline to many
corporate whores campus representatives of the site, including the entire membership of a fraternity house at Carnegie Mellon University.
Bigwords relaunched months afterwards, but is now a price search engine for textbooks. They have relegated themselves to taking a 5% commission from their former competitors in an effort to make any money whatsoever.
Bigwords suffered from the same problem as all textbook booksellers: an extremely fickle market (your prices must be the lowest, and shipping heavy books must be free), and a vicious business cycle. Most people buy textbooks only two times a year, maybe three or four depending on your college's course system. They tried to accept book buybacks, offering lucrative store credit, but that required people to pack up and ship their books at personal expense. Once they started to peddle non-book items, it was the beginning of the end for Bigwords. They tried to become the Amazon.com of the college world, and failed at it.
On the plus side, I still have a pen of theirs filled with orange bubble soap and a wand with which to blow bubbles. It is neat.