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New website created for Calvin students to buy and sell textbooks

Photo courtesy joustforbooks.com
Photo courtesy joustforbooks.com

Ready to change the face of textbook buying at Calvin College, Joustforbooks.com launched at the end of last month, specifically for Calvin students to buy and sell textbooks from other students at Calvin. Students can search by course, book title or ISB number to find their books. Once they find what they are looking for, they can email the seller and set up a way to exchange the book. Using the site is free and allows students to contact each other directly, eliminating campus store as the middleman.

The site’s creator, who wishes to remain anonymous, explains why this site is different from other textbook sites.

“If you plan it out right,” the creator said, “you don’t have to pay for shipping your book when you sell it. That is a major pain of selling books through Amazon.”

A video on the site’s homepage welcomes visitors and gives the creator’s motivation as to why the site was created in the first place.

“Sick of overpriced books?” it asks. “So were we.”

And books have become more overpriced over the years. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, within the last two decades, the prices of college textbooks have increased at twice the rate of inflation and in the 2003-2004 school year, students spent an average of $898 on textbooks alone.

Students have a variety of options for buying textbooks. They can buy them from the campus bookstore, from various textbook websites or directly from other students. Cheaper options tend to be found online.

Calvin also has a Facebook group called Textbook Exchange where students can sell and buy books from other students. The page is a mix of posts from students selling books and looking for books.

The Joustforbooks.com creator explained why the site works better than Facebook.

“I started this site so Calvin students would be able to sell books locally to each other,” the creator said. “Having an organized website helps people quickly search for books that may be available rather than scrolling through a Facebook news feed.”

Sophomore Jared Dice explained the difficulty in using the Facebook page.

“Its really unorganized,” Dice said. “I don’t ever bother with it; I can’t ever find anything.”

Junior Taylor Campbell expressed an issue with the Calvin bookstore’s textbook buyback program.

“Selling any book back to the Calvin bookstore is the worst idea and will result in a monumental loss of money for the student,” Campbell said. “I don’t want to get into conspiracies, but it would make sense for the school to sell them high, buy them back extremely low, and then sell them back to the publishers or to other book outlets for a higher price. It’s a scam, and it’s made me absolutely hate buying books.”

The bookstore only takes a certain amount of books back; sometimes students are unable to sell their books after the semester.

Junior Annie Difino expressed some of the frustrations students have with the Calvin bookstore.

“In the past I had a really hard time with getting them to buy my books back and I go into it thinking I will be able to sell them back,” Difino said.

The creator presents Joustforbooks.com as an alternative to both the Facebook page and the Calvin bookstore.

The creator believes this site will be a success because a computer science project with a similar purpose was successful in the past. The project was a book connection site launched in 2003 but lost popularity due to lack of maintenance.

The creator believes this site will be successful because many students used the last book connection site.

“That is why I think having Joust For Books will take off when people hear about it,” the creator said.

About the Author

Sierra Savela

Sierra Savela is a Chimes guest writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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