The creator behind a textbook exchange website open to all universities plans to change how college students buy and sell their books.
Texts.com compares textbook prices on sites such as Amazon and Chegg as well as displaying student sales listings. According to texts.com CEO Peter Frank, the goal of the website is to offer students an alternative to the “broken market” of textbook exchange stores and websites.
“It occurred to me that the same books that I was selling for pennies on the dollar would be resold a few weeks later at their original price,” Frank said. “So, I became determined to do something about it.”
The site was created by Frank, a Los Angeles native, and by Mount Allison University graduate Benjamin Halpern. When the site launched in January, it was designed for use at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
During the first year, about a third of the students at Wesleyan University used the site to look for books and half of that group either sold or bought books, Frank said. With the success of the trial run, they are now preparing to expand their business model to include all other universities in the country.
Frank and Halpern said their plans for the future include forming partnerships with universities in order to make their model more efficient and to arrange a textbook sharing system.
“Working with universities directly, we could look at their required textbook information and help students using the same book in class at different times to share that book and distribute the cost,” Frank said.
Most textbook sites work exclusively in either price-comparison or student exchange. Texts.com combines the two methods in a hybrid model.
Students are able to post listings for the books they want to sell without paying a fee. Potential buyers can then contact the seller via email to arrange the sale. According to the Texts.com information page, this setup will lower the cost of buying and raise the profits gained by sellers.
“We’re spending hundreds of dollars on books, and we’re only getting $5 back on each when we turn them in,” said Carson sophomore Abbey Hall. “As college students, we want to save as much money as we can, so I think it’s a good idea.”
Texts.com is not the first entrepreneurial venture for Frank. While attending college at Wesleyan College, he started a business website called collegeacb.com, which allowed students to anonymously post about their views and experiences with college life. He sold his share of the website in 2011 and turned his attention to the textbook market.