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Monday, September 28, 2020

A new online option for buying textbooks

A vote next week will determine how Western promotes a new choice for buying and selling textbooks for students. Texts.com is a site that allows students to post books for sale and compare prices in order to get the best value possible.

The site is a student-to-student textbook marketplace wrapped inside a price-comparison engine, according to its website. They provide free student listings and give options of other vendors who are also selling the book students may be looking for.

Texts.com has come to the attention of Western’s Associated Students Board of Directors as a possible option for them to sponsor, according to Hannah Brock, AS Vice President for Business and Operations.

One of the main factors holding the board back is their concern for the AS Bookstore sales, Brock said.

Freshman Sydney Berger buys books for her English 201 class on Monday, Nov. 2 in Western's bookstore. // Photo by Christina Becker
Freshman Sydney Berger buys books for her English 201 class on Monday, Nov. 2 in Western’s bookstore. // Photo by Christina Becker

“I have to make sure I’m not overstepping my authority with the bookstore and make sure they’re on board with this,” Brock said.

Brock plans to meet with AS Bookstore Manager Peg Godwin next week to hash out the details of how the implementation of Texts.com would affect bookstore sales, but Brock  doesn’t think the site is in direct competition with the bookstore.

“These are two separate markets of students. Those that go to the bookstore generally want the convenience factor of going and physically picking up their books,” Brock said. “The other market of students is those that are already kind of doing [what Texts.com does] by connecting with each other on Facebook and going to outside vendors.”

Godwin is concerned about the site’s reliability, she said.

“I think you’ve always got to be careful where you lend your name. This is a very young company, but it’s a peer-to-peer sharing opportunity and those opportunities are sometimes where students get their best value,” Godwin said.

The site allows viewers to buy from all over the Internet, but the AS’s intention is that it would be used for direct student exchange of textbooks, Brock said.

Brock said she needed to know how the AS would make money before rolling out the new site.

“We were thinking this sounded too good to be true,” Brock said.

When a student searches the site for a book, they are given a list of everywhere it exists for sale on the Internet with student listings shown first. The cheapest one appears at the top of the list. When none of those student listings are exactly what the student is looking for, they may scroll down to find where else it can be purchased.

This is how Texts.com earns a commission. When students buy a book from somewhere such as Amazon or Biblio, the site earns a percentage of the money from that purchase, Brock said.

Sophomore Megan Horton said she would be interested in a place where you can get rid of old textbooks.

“I’ve only ever done it through the bookstore, but it’s a secure website and I know I’m going to be able to get the books and sell my books back. I think it would be something really good to use because the bookstore doesn’t always take your books back,” Horton said.

The site is free to Western and to students, making it an attractive option for the AS to support.

“Hopefully by this time next year, if we do choose to implement this, it will be so widely used that it will be difficult to not find a book on here,” Brock said.

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