Web site helps students sell back books

by Elizabeth Putnam

University graduate Ahmed Siddiqui says he wants students to get the most money possible for their used textbooks.

On his Web site, blazinginferno.com, Siddiqui said, he has created a way for students to get the best deal by letting “the buyer and seller meet halfway on cost.”

Siddiqui’s Web site is one of three options for University students selling back their books locally.

Siddiqui said the University bookstore increases the price of the returned book to cover business costs, which is not to the advantage of the student.

He sets up the scenario like this: A student buys a used book from the bookstore for $75, but when selling the book back the student receive $25. In turn, he said, the bookstore sells the text for $75.

By using his online exchange, Siddiqui said, the student could sell the book for $50.

“This way the buyer saves $25 and the seller makes $25,” he said. “You are guaranteed to get your minimum price.”

However, there is a service charge of $2 to $3, depending on how much the book sells for.

Siddiqui said there is no charge if the book doesn’t sell.

Bob Crabb, departmental director of the University bookstores, said Siddiqui’s plan is similar to the online book exchange the University has operated for two years, but without a service charge.

“There’s been around 300 to 400 book postings each semester. There’s a pretty good chance once you go into it Ö you’ll find copies,” Crabb said.

He said the University uses several factors to determine the price of a book, but he said it’s mainly based on need.

“If we know for fact that a professor will be using the book the following semester Ö. we will pay 50 percent of the new book price,” Crabb said.

He said the bookstores do not differentiate between new and used books when determining price.

Siddiqui said his Web site allows students to use the University bookstores as a backup plan.

“If students are unable to sell their book, then they have the alternative of using the bookstore,” Siddiqui said. “You can take the books off with no charge.”

Unlike other online textbook exchange sites, Siddiqui said, his caters to University students only.

“It’s student-to-student. They can meet and exchange the book, so there isn’t shipping and handling involved,” Siddiqui said.

However, Siddiqui said, the site won’t realize its full potential if the number of users is low.

There were 15 books for sale Thursday afternoon.

The Student BookStore offers yet another alternative to using the University bookstore.

Manager Mark Hepler said SBS creates an environment of competition so the University can’t monopolize the market.

SBS pays 50 percent of the new list price for a book they need for the upcoming semester. If a book is not being used next semester or if it is overstocked, SBS will pay the national market value. Hepler said that can be one-third to 10 percent of the new list price.

“It doesn’t matter if it is new or used,” Hepler said. “It just has to have both covers on it and all the pages in it.”

Hepler said there are 6,000 types of books every term. He said underclassmen usually receive more money back because their textbooks will be in demand the next semester.

“Across the board, it’s best to sell your book right away and to sell it on your campus,” Hepler said.

Hepler said he doesn’t foresee SBS providing online service because students like having cash immediately.