Book trading services developed at UCSD

    Students may soon find relief from rising textbook costs in new online book trading services that connect UCSD students who have old textbooks directly to others on campus who want to buy them.

    Two new services, CampusBoox and Books on Campus, aim to serve students as a forum for textbook exchange.

    “There’s got to be some way to stem the hemorrhaging, the financial strain on students,” CampusBoox founder Kristopher Lederer said. “I think this definitely helps a lot of students.”

    Lederer, an Earl Warren College sophomore, estimates that over 1,000 successful transactions have occurred since CampusBoox began operating last fall.

    CampusBoox allows users to place a free advertisement for a book without registering or logging into the site. The listing includes the seller’s contact information so an interested student can arrange a meeting place for the transaction to take place.

    In a separate move to help ease textbook costs, the A.S. Council approved a revenue-sharing contract with Books on Campus on Feb. 25 that paves the way for Books on Campus to become an A.S. service in the next few weeks.

    A.S. Commissioner of Enterprise Operations Jeremy Cogan said that Books on Campus was selected because of its reliability, security and willingness to share profits evenly.

    “We’re providing the same level of commercial security and reliability that you might see at Half.com or Amazon.com, but we’re providing the locality that you see in the student-run option,” Cogan said. “So it’s kind of combining the best of both worlds.”

    Books on Campus charges the buyer and seller $2.50 for each successful transaction, amounting to fees of $5 per sale. Out of that amount, A.S. will receive about $2.

    “I wanted the most of that fee possible going back to A.S. for student programs and student organizations,” Cogan said.

    To sell a book or complete a transaction with Books on Campus, students must register with the site. A few days after a successful book exchange, each party’s credit card is charged.

    Lederer believes that book swapping services should be free to students.

    “I feel, even if we weren’t here doing it for free, that a $5 fee is going to be prohibitive for students using this service, especially initially,” Lederer said.

    John Muir College freshman Jon Chan purchased a book through CampusBoox and is using the site to list his Chemistry 6 textbook.

    “It was easy to sign on and people called,” Chan said. “I get more money off of selling [the book] to other students than to the Bookstore.”

    Eleanor Roosevelt College sophomore Debbie Lee, however, has listed her Math 20C textbook on CampusBoox since January and has had no offers.

    “It was kind of disappointing because I thought it was pretty well advertised,” Lee said. “I think a whole bunch of people list there, but very few people actually go to the site and buy.”

    Established online services charge a commission for successful transactions. Half.com, a division of eBay, charges as much as 15 percent of the selling price. Amazon.com deducts $0.99 plus 15 percent of the item’s price per transaction. Both merchants provide a shipping allowance of about $2.

    Cogan said that he hopes CampusBoox poses competition for the Books on Campus-Associated Students venture so that students will have as many options as possible.

    “I just felt that there should be an option that is sanctioned by A.S. that is another option for students to feel reliable and secure about,” he said.

    According to Cogan, early estimates predict that Books on Campus might generate up to $6,000 a year for the A.S. Council. Cogan said that even if no one uses the service, it will not cost the council anything.

    Lederer said that his textbook-swapping site will remain free for students.

    Currently, Lederer and his team are advertising by passing out flyers on Library Walk and talking with students in residence halls.

    “At this point, other than recognition, there’s nothing in it for us,” Lederer said. “It’s really a service [students] shouldn’t have to pay for.”

    CampusBoox can be found at http://www.campusboox.com.

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