With the cost of textbooks skyrocketing, many students have been relying on Web sites like Amazon.com and Half.com to obtain used textbooks from sellers via mail. Temple business students Gunter Pfau and Victor Feinman have come up with a way to allow Temple students to sell their books in person.
In early January 2005, Pfau and Feinman launched STUZO.com, a Web site aimed at providing Temple students with an easy and inexpensive way to buy and sell used textbooks.
STUZO.com works much like Amazon.com and Half.com. Users enter in the title of a book they wish to buy, and the site displays used copies of the book that are currently for sale. However, instead of the seller sending the book to the buyer, STUZO.com provides the buyer and seller with the other’s contact info. They can then arrange to meet to exchange the books in person.
If the buyer and the seller are unable or unwilling to meet, STUZO.com will handle the exchange for a nominal fee. In addition, if the buyer prefers to use a credit card, the site charges a $3 fee for purchases under $50 and $5 for purchases over $50. Otherwise, STUZO.com does not charge its users a fee.
At the moment, the site only serves Temple students, but in the future, Pfau and Feinman plan to expand the business to other campuses. Pfau says he plans to target the largest schools in the nation, because he wants to help the greatest number of students possible.
According to Pfau, STUZO.com is the only intra-campus textbook exchange Web site that has ambitions to go national.
Pfau, a senior finance and entrepreneurship major, says that STUZO.com was inspired by the used textbook listservs that were cropping up around Temple. Outraged by the prices of new textbooks, and inspired by student attempts to bypass these steep prices, Pfau and Feinman, a sophomore finance and real estate major, decided last November to start STUZO.com.
Although the idea for STUZO.com was only conceived last November, Pfau wanted to get the site up and running by the spring 2005 semester. The two entrepreneurs have been very busy trying to get the site ready in so little time.
“What were we thinking when we decided to start a company in three months?” Feinman joked.
Team STUZO, which at this point only consists of Pfau and Feinman, set itself the goal of saving Temple students $50,000 on used textbooks this semester. As of Jan. 21, Team STUZO has saved Temple students a total of $24,000. So far, more than 800 transactions have been made.
Team STUZO’s business plan does not stop at used textbooks. As the STUZO name becomes more well known, Pfau and Feinman hope to eventually be able to offer students inexpensive international editions of textbooks.
Much like U.S. pharmaceutical companies, U.S. textbook companies sell cheaper editions of their books abroad. These international editions have the same content as the U.S. editions, but they are paperback and are printed in black and white. According to STUZO.com, the international edition of a book which costs $120 in the United States may cost future STUZO.com users as little as $40.
According to Pfau, it is illegal for distributors of international editions to sell directly to students in the Unites States, but it is still legal for international distributors to sell to distributors in the United States.
They also hope to eventually be able to offer students discounts on things like CDs, DVDs, and airline tickets.
“We want to be the source for discounts on everything students use and need,” Pfau said. “We think the prices students are charged is unfair, and our goal is to help students save money.”
Part of their reason for starting STUZO.com is to show how well Temple students can do. Pfau said he was tired of seeing Wharton and Harvard students getting all of the recognition.
“I want to show that a Temple student can do a thing like this,” Pfau said.
Daniel J. Kristie can be reached at email@example.com.