Textbook-swap site launched

Students hope to lower textbook cost with the marketplace Web site.

Amber Kispert

Students’ wallets continue to thin because of the skyrocketing textbook costs.

Instead of using their hard-earned money on necessities such as food or shelter, their money disappears into the pockets of publishers.

According to the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges, last year the average cost of textbooks for a full academic year was $942 at four-year public universities.

The cost of textbooks is expected to increase by 20 percent within the next three years, according to the survey.

In order to combat the increasing cost of books, the University Bookstore and the Minnesota Student Association have combined forces to launch the University of Minnesota Student Text Exchange – a Web site designed to help lessen the blow to students’ wallets.

where to go

U of M Bookstore Textbook Exchange Site
What: Book-exchange site where students can go to sell and buy books. It’s a direct student-to- student exchange site.
Where: Book Exchange Web site

By October, MSA hopes to add a feature to the site that will allow students to comparison-shop for textbooks.

“It’s going to list everywhere you can get textbooks, all your different options,” Emma Olson, MSA president, said. “You can compare and see which is the better price.”

The idea for the textbook-exchange site began last spring and was an issue the current MSA officers addressed in their campaigns.

“It was something we wanted to do regardless if the bookstore was doing it,” Olson said. “It just kind of worked out.”

Director of the University Bookstore Bob Crabb described the Student Text Exchange as a “student-to-student marketplace.”

The Web site is designed so a student can post a listing for a book and any interested student can contact them.

Once a price is agreed on between seller and buyer, the students will meet to make the exchange.

“The advantage here is that the seller can get more for it than they would in the bookstore,” Crabb said.

The site, however, didn’t launch without criticism. At MSA’s first forum meeting, concerns about privacy were raised.

Currently, the Web site has the seller’s contact information available to those interested in buying. MSA has suggested that notifications be sent to the seller about interested buyers, rather than the buyers contacting them directly.

Textbook-exchange sites are nothing new to the University. Last spring economics junior Greg Martin started the Gopher Textbook Exchange group on Facebook.

“I thought it would be a lot more efficient for students to eliminate the middle man and just trade books amongst themselves for cheaper prices,” he said.

Martin said he foresees the bookstore’s Web site having difficulties with the actual exchange.

“Some might think it’s too much of a hassle to make arrangements to meet and do the swap,” he said.