Daily Reveille: Two students launch online textbook exchange

August 27, 2009

Two University students have invented a cure for expensive textbook woes.

Hunter Thompson and David Allain recently launched TigerBookMarket.com, a new Web site for Baton Rouge college students to sell and buy used textbooks.

“Basically, it’s an online textbook exchange [and] a price comparison service, too,” said Thompson, business administration senior. “We were tired of the whole process. There should always be a direct student exchange.”

TigerBookMarket.com is in “Craigslist” format and compares textbook prices with other online bookstores, such as Amazon, eBay, Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million. Thompson said the Web site does not compare prices with local bookstores like the Co-Op Bookstore or Chimes Textbook Exchange.

“We would love to get the Co-Op and CTX’s prices up on the Web site,” Thompson said in an e-mail to The Daily Reveille. “Right now, the larger online companies have data feeds that are already set up for an application such as ours. We would just need to work out some of the technical issues, and those companies would also have to be willing to do it.”

Thompson said their goal and initial mission is to make as much possible information about textbook prices available for students.

“We were fed up with … the difficulty of the whole bookstore scene in general,” said Allain, biology junior. “[With TigerBookMarket.com] you get a good deal for whoever’s buying [textbooks] and for whoever’s selling [textbooks]. Everybody wins.”

Allain said one of his biology textbooks cost about $150 at the University bookstore, but when he used the price comparison part of TigerBookMarket.com, he found the same book for $60 at another online bookstore.

Thompson and Allain worked with University alumni at Gatorworks Web Design to build and maintain the Web site.

“It was naturally a good fit,” he said. “I know what it’s like to have a new company, to be young and to get people to take you seriously.”

Rodriguez said Gatorworks has a maintenance contract with Thompson, where they are paid each month to update and change the Web site.

“The Web site costs about $150 a month to maintain because it requires a pretty large server,” Thompson said in the e-mail. “A domain runs for about $10 a year.”

In order to afford the costs of a new business as well as a new Web site, Thompson applied for a grant from the Louisiana Economic Development Office.

Rodriguez said LED paid Gatorworks approximately $8,000. He said the total project was close to $20,000.

“It’s not a get-rich-quick thing,” Thompson said. “It’s more for sustainability … to generate revenue from advertising to pay the server cost. We’re looking to do some advertising revenue, and maybe those companies [involved with the price comparison] will give us a small cut. [Any revenue] won’t come out of the student price.”

Jonte’ DePhillips, elementary education senior, said she thinks if all students use TigerBookMarket.com to buy and sell textbooks, the textbook companies will eventually lower their prices.

“[The textbook companies] know they’ve got us in a trap,” DePhillips said. “They can charge a ridiculous amount for books because they know we have to buy them … that’s why they’re so expensive.”

Thompson and Allain both said they did not create this Web site to make money.

“We don’t take any kind of commission from it,” Thompson said. “We thought it’d be a fun project. We’ll see [if local stores will be angered by TigerBookMarket.com]. I think local stores are convenient. I’m not trying to get back at them, just get more options for the students. I’d like to save a couple of hundred bucks, too.”

Reprinted from LSU’s “The Daily Reveille” on August 27, 2009 by Mary Walker Baus

The original article is here.