New website lets students set their own price for textbooks
Students who are tired of dealing with the high cost of buying textbooks and the low price of selling them back have another option in the form of PostYourBook.com.
This website, which launched about a year ago, can be described as a social network for buying and selling textbooks. A user who wishes to buy a book can search for it by name or ISBN.
If there is someone on the website selling the book, the user can click on the link and see a description of the book, condition and the seller’s asking price. If the user agrees to the price they can send a message to the seller and arrange to meet on campus.
Freshman art major Andres Cabral, 20, became interested in PostYourBook.com after receiving an email inviting him to sell his books on the site at the beginning of the semester.
He set up an account and posted two books, an English book and a math book, and set prices he thought were fair.
“I prefer to sell my books to someone who’s actually going to use them instead of the bookstore,” he said. “I’ll probably get more money, too.”
Users can pay cash in person or by credit card on the website. If the user thinks the price is too high, they can submit a counter offer.
For some CSUN students, buying and selling online does not trump the reliability of having the Matador Bookstore on campus.
“I bought a book online one time, and they gave me the wrong edition,” said junior deaf studies major Amy Nakajima, 21.
She also touted the bookstore’s convenience on campus. Nakajima usually buys her books at the bookstore or from other students who have already taken the class.
Student-to-student commerce and the high price of textbooks at campus bookstores are exactly what PostYourBook.com founders Phillip Kravtsov and Joshua Hiekali had in mind when they founded the business.
“The reason we made this was purely out of anger,” said Kravstov, a business major at Rugers University.
“I paid roughly $1,300 for books, and when I went to sell them back at the end of the semester, they offered me $330,” he said. “The books were brand new.”
He searched websites such as Amazon, Chegg and Half.com, but they weren’t much better. Amazon was the best of all three, offering him $410.
He thought that there had to be a way to sell his books to someone who needs them. With that in mind, he went around to campus bulletin boards and posted fliers all over campus.
He was able to sell his books for $1,110. Then he thought, “Why isn’t there a resource like this on the web?”
He scoured the internet and finally found a website that Hiekali, a marketing student at UCLA, had started.
“It was kind of what I had in mind, more like Craigslist than anything,” he said.
Together Kiekali and Kravtsov changed PostYourBook.com into what it is today.
The Matador Bookstore welcomes the additional competition.
“The bookstore is very supportive of students having options, researching what’s out there and at what price,” said Amy Berger, director of the Matador Bookstore.
She also said that competition is healthy for the bookstore and that CSUN students continue to choose the Matador Bookstore for “a great value and unique service.”
Berger also mentioned that staff at the CSUN bookstore can make sure someone has the correct book, handle refunds and exchanges easily and accept financial aid and athletic scholarships as payment.
The Matador Bookstore’s Rent-A-Text program saves students 50 percent on average. But rent or buy, Kravtsov believes campus bookstores are ripping off students.
“They pay you 20 percent of what it’s worth, then sell it back for 80 percent of its original price,” he said. “The only thing they pay is storage.”
PostYourBook.com is rapidly expanding. The website is being used by 155 colleges and universities and 15,000 students, Kravtsov said. There are also plans for iPhone and Android apps.
Students are the core of their business, and as a result, the company spends little on marketing.
“We do email marketing and go to different schools but our biggest marketing tool is word of mouth,” Kravtsov said.
Since they don’t charge a membership fee, the only revenue generated by the site is from small ads in the lower right corner, convenience fees when paying with credit cards and shipping fees when buying a book from outside your area.
Many CSUN students weren’t familiar with PostYourBook but said they would look into it.
“The bookstore doesn’t give you a lot of money back,” sophomore art major Prisiclla Tran said. “I’ll check it out at the end of the semester.”