Textbook-exchange websites give other options

by Nancy Ngo

Students who make the quarterly bookstore run to buy and sell books can now trade that trip for a different exchange option.
Internet book exchanges popping up on University World Wide Web page accounts are reaching more students than previous efforts. The latest two-week-old effort, generated by chemistry graduate student Michael Hack, has already generated more than 1,200 visits to the site. Hack said student book exchanges via the Internet allow students to save money.
“You take the profit the University would be getting and you split the costs between students,” Hack said.
The book exchange site allows students to post the books they want to sell. In addition, students can purchase books from other students. Books can be found by searching postings according to a book’s author, title or subject matter.
Hack announced the new Website two weeks ago by sending a message to all maroon and gold e-mail accounts.
Benjamin Powers, a senior majoring in biology, visited the Website and wrote to Hack, suggesting that he collaborate with other student book exchanges on the Internet. Powers knows of one other University book-exchange Website.
“I’m a little concerned about a lot of Websites because the goal here at the University was (for students) to be able to find each other,” he said.
Powers said Hack’s Website is much more effective than the one he saw because it reaches more people. However, the first one he looked at was more user-friendly, with a faster and more efficient search engine.
Powers said he has not had a chance to participate in the student book exchange because the quarter is not over, but he is optimistic that the idea will succeed. “I think once students get past the apprehension of not having their books bought and sold right away it will work,” he said.
“It’s an added inconvenience. But as a seller, if you’re looking for someone to buy your book, it’s a lot better deal.”
Minnesota Student Association President Jigar Madia said he would like to see a central website used by all students for a book exchange. This notion was part of his election platform along with MSA Vice President Bridgette Murphy. In their “Twelve Months of Action” campaign plan they said they were planning to implement a book buy-back program on the Internet.
Madia said the Website allows for more competitive pricing.
“When buying and selling books, this gives students an opportunity to get fair prices,” Madia said.
He said that though the structure of existing Internet student book exchanges are user-friendly, a wider effort to get students to use the service is needed.
He said combining the sites might serve this purpose, but one set up by MSA might offer more advertising options and reach more students. “MSA can use its resources to publicize efforts to create a grass-roots effort for students to deal with each other when buying and selling books,” Madia said.
Kari Weidling, marketing manager at the University bookstore in Williamson Hall, said the existence of book-exchange Websites does not worry her. “We are here to provide a service,” she said. “Unfortunately those services aren’t available on the computer. That’s the reason bookstores exist.”
She said that keeping track of the most updated book versions is one of the many services that might not be available via Internet. “It takes a lot of energy to get the right books in the right people’s hands. For a student to find the right book it’s a huge challenge even for us.”