Kyle Johnson was tired of selling his used textbooks to bookstores, so he decided to give his fellow Kansas University students another option.
Johnson, Wichita sophomore, spearheaded KU's new Student Book Exchange, an online swapmeet for students looking to buy and sell textbooks. The new service, hosted by KU Web servers, officially went online Friday.
"I've been frustrated," he said. "You buy books for outrageous prices $100 and (bookstores) buy them back for $25. It's outrageous because they turn around and sell them for $80."
A group of student senators had the idea for the site last year, Johnson said. It was approved by Student Senate's Academic Services Board this year. Provost David Shulenburger signed off on the site www.ku.edu/~book this week.
Book sellers must be KU students. Their student status is verified by using their e-mail address, which must end in "@ku.edu."
Johnson said students would need to beware that the version of a book they're buying is the one needed for their class. Other than that, he said, the site should offer students an alternative to bookstores.
"When you sell it directly, you don't have the overhead," Johnson said. "Both students can make money. We're just opening up a forum."
Several years ago, another group of KU students started a for-profit book exchange site, www.bookmark 101.com, that provides a similar service. The site makes money through banner advertising. Johnson said he was unaware of the bookmark101 site.
Bill Getz, textbook manager of the KU Bookstores in the Kansas and Burge unions, said the new online site shouldn't affect business at the traditional bookstores in town.
He said he expected the book buy-back prices at his store would be comparable or better than on the Web site. Getz said he planned to place bids for books on the site.
He said the bookstores still offered a surefire way to get money for textbooks.
"If they want money for their book, they simply have to walk in and get it," he said. "Most people appreciate at the end of the semester walking away with cash."