By McKenna Luzynski, Assistant News Edtior
Move over Amazon, eBay and slightly questionable overseas discount book retailers, there is a new vendor in town for used textbooks: freetextbooks.com.
The company operates through a smartphone application, giving students handheld access to textbooks at a low price.
Freetextbooks.com is also currently running a promotion through the app to capture the attention, and hearts, of college students with free food.
Warren James, a junior from Myrtle Beach, S.C., serves as Furman’s campus representative for freetextbooks.com.
“Freetextbooks.com is an idea that was formed a couple years ago basically to give students another option, besides the school bookstore, to buy and sell books,” James said. “If you want to sell your book, all you have to do is call me, and I’ll tell you how much I can give you for it. And that’s it.”
James says that the good textbook prices are not the only reason to download the freetextbooks.com iPhone app. Students who use the app could also get a free meal.
“You’ve got to download the app—it’s in the app store under ‘Free Textbooks,’”James said. “We tell you what we’ll be delivering, you tell us where you are on campus, and we’ll come bring it to you. We did donuts last time, and we’ve done quesadillas before too.”
While the company has been focused on expanding textbook options locally within the campus textbook scene since 2009, it has plans to expand in the near future.
Katelin Resta, a campus manager for freetextbooks.com, says the company began in the same space many students will order from: the dorm.
“Jonathan Robinson started the company in his dorm room at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.,” Resta said. “Now there are about 20 of us working full-time for the company going coast to coast. We work with universities out in California, Colorado, the Carolinas, Boston, Nashville. This is one of the biggest years our company has ever had.”
Both James and Resta stress that even though used textbook sales have historically been dominated by large online retailers, this app-based experience is attractive to students, and not just because of the free food.
“We’re already a pretty big threat to those companies, and we’re definitely, definitely competitive. But we are unique in the way that we offer the pricing that Amazon or Chegg might have, but with the convenience of a campus bookstore,” Resta said. “People buy from the bookstore even though they’re getting ripped off because it’s so convenient. That’s why this is so great. It’s convenient, but our pricing is also competitive.”
James emphasizes that now is the time to give freetextbooks.com a try. With exams just around the corner and the course adjustment period starting, used textbooks will be in high demand. He notes that while students can both sell and buy books from freetextbooks.com, it is not necessary to do both to reap the benefits.
“We’ll buy your books back at the end of the semester, and we’ll give you money,” James said. “Then at the beginning of next semester, you can upload your class schedule right to the app, it’ll tell you how much the books are and it’ll deliver them right to you. You don’t have to sell us your books to buy from us.”