Even as a freshman, Ryan Epp knew there was something wrong with the way students bought and sold textbooks on campus.
The bookstore prices were considered by many to be too high and students had a difficult time getting an equal return when they tried to sell their textbooks at the end of the semester. Epp said he saw plenty of flyers floating around on campus and Facebook posts online offering textbooks at lower costs, but no way for students to see them all.
“I thought there should be a better way than that,” Epp, a senior computer science major, said.
That’s when Epp came up with the Temple Student Book Exchange.
The idea was to create a website that would act as a central location for students to trade, buy or sell textbooks. Instead of searching Facebook groups or scouring campus for posters, students would come to the website and be able to find what they were looking for with one search.
Epp talked to several friends about the idea, one being his roommate and friend since high school, Devon Greider. Greider, a senior broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media major, showed great interest in the project and agreed to be Epp’s business partner.
Epp worked on the website design while Greider focused on promoting the site, which they released this past December.
According to a U.S. Department of Education Study done in 2007, the average student spends between $700 and $1,000 on textbooks each year. Although both Barnes and Noble and Zavelle Bookstore will buy back textbooks, it’s only for a fraction of the cost.
“You buy a textbook for $100 dollars, sell it back for $40 and then the bookstore turns around and sells it to someone else for $80,” Greider said.
The Temple Student Book Exchange, also known as TU Book X, has a simple premise: In bold print on the website, the owners promise “to save you money and make buying and selling your textbooks as easy as possible.” The website creates a free market where students can exchange, buy or sell books at lower costs than bookstores and without the shipping fees and waiting time of online sites.
To sign up, all students need is a Temple email account and within minutes they can start listing textbooks or searching for the ones needed for the semester. Although users are free to put their contact information on their profile, interested buyers can also message them directly through the site to set up a meeting to sell or exchange books.
Textbooks currently on the site vary from law to biology to finance to psychology. To see if a book is listed all users need is the title, publisher or ISBN number.
Since this is the website’s first semester in action, Epp and Greider are still trying to generate buzz.
Epp and Greider said there are currently more than 350 books listed on the site and a little more than 250 users. They’ve had some help from the Facebook group TU Memes endorsing them, which resulted in their heaviest days of activity, but they’re still hoping more students will learn about the website and check it out.
Epp and Greider said they encourage anyone who’s looking to buy or sell textbooks to check out the site because the service can only get better when there are more users and more books posted.
“If you’re buying or selling books there’s no place better to be,” Epp said.
The students have no plans on expanding their site to other schools yet. Although they’re open to it, they know Main Campus best and want to work out the kinks of the website before moving on.
Epp and Greider are also in the middle of changing the name of the service because “TU” is a trademark of Temple University, which they have no official affiliation with.
For now, students can still find the them on Facebook at Temple Student Book Exchange or through their website, TUBookX.com.
Nicole Soll can be reached at email@example.com.