New app lowers textbook costs
A student startup has cut out the middleman in the secondhand textbook market on campus.
Jim Jannuzzio, a junior, launched his book selling app, BookBandit, in January. Available online, in the App Store and on Google Play, BookBandit allows university students to sell their used books directly to other students to avoid getting undercut by bookstores.
BookBandit has been downloaded more than 1,200 times since launching. The university is the primary market for the app right now, but every college in the Unites States is available on the app. The app is currently in use at universities such as the University of Arizona, Clemson University and LaSalle University.
In order to register with BookBandit, a university email must be provided and a Facebook account must be linked, Jannuzzio said.
“We want students to know who they’re buying from and selling to,” Jannuzzio said. “By linking to Facebook, the app can show you a picture and how many mutual friends you have with the person you’re dealing with.”
Jannuzzio said he believes the app’s process is a simple one. When you go to list a book for selling, the app presents you with the average selling price of the book when it’s both new and used. Jannuzzio said this assures sellers can set a fair price, usually lower than the retailer’s average.
The second step in the transaction is the actual meet-up and exchange of books and payment. After the exchange occurs, both parties involved are presented with a bill of sale and are able to rate the transaction from one to five stars.
Student Center Program Advisory Board President Craig Levergood said he has saved money by using BookBandit to purchase his textbooks for this semester.
“The fact that the website is so accessible is what really sets it apart,” Levergood said. “It presents you with the prices of 15 different well-known vendors, which really lets you see just how big the separation of prices between them really is.”
Sophomore Valerie Dorsey said in her sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, all the members have downloaded the app and used it to buy some of their books.
The app boasts a chat feature, which allowed Dorsey to set up a meeting to purchase a book for an accounting class from another student on campus. Dorsey said she needed the book without the access code and that both Barnes & Noble and Lieberman’s only sold the book new with the access code included.
“I ended up getting a $200 book for literally $10,” Dorsey said. “I met the guy selling me the book at El Diablo, handed him a $10 bill and he handed me the book. I didn’t have to wait for the book or pay for shipping and handling.”
Jannuzzio has made it a point to take his newfound success and use it to help the community around him. He’s doing just that this semester by holding a contest to benefit UDance, in which sororities, fraternities and other RSOs will compete to see which group can download BookBandit the most times.
BookBandit will donate $250 to the team that gets first place in the contest, $150 to the second place team and $100 to the third place team.
“I’m using this as a means of a promotional expense, but more importantly we’re trying to help kids out,” Jannuzzio said. “Cancer is very familiar in my family, my father passed away from it when I was 15 years old. It’s always good to give back to the community in any way that we can.”