One year after Boston University student Erik Bogaard launched myBookCrate, an online forum for students to buy and sell textbooks from their peers, he said the company has experienced nationwide success.
MyBookCrate has signed partnerships with schools on both coasts, including the University of Southern California, the University of California, San Diego and Northeastern University, Bogaard said. Over the summer, MyBookCrate was named a semi-finalist on Forbes magazine’s list of America’s Most Promising Companies.
“Things have been going really well,” Bogaard, a College of Arts and Sciences student, said. “We’ve expanded to work with schools all across the country.”
Bogaard said he is focusing on publicizing the myBookCrate marketplace so the bookstores and vans that buy back textbooks do not continue to take advantage of students.
“Really what we need now is for students to really build awareness and for the word to start getting around because once we get enough people in the marketplace, there’s going to be no stopping it,” he said.
If each student at BU sold one textbook this year on the myBookCrate marketplace, receiving fair market value, the student body as a whole would save more than $500,000, he said.
“Our goal in the immediate future is to make sure that everybody knows about the marketplace, even using the iPhone app which allows students to scan the barcode,” he said.
Erica Navar, a College of Communication freshman, said using her phone makes the process simpler.
“I like the fact that you can confirm things through your phone, and then the payment goes through, makes it easier,” Navar said.
Since releasing the product into the market in 2011, Bogaard said he has spent the past year listening to students’ responses and using them to improve the service.
“Once we have this awareness built, then our focus is going to be, as it always has been, on continuing to improve the service, streamline it for students and making it easier than ever before for students to save money,” he said.
While the company is expanding its reach, Bogaard said they are still focusing on creating an affordable way for students to buy and sell books — the reason he originally created myBookCrate.
“There are 21 million students that were enrolled in higher education as of this semester, and the textbook market is so severely broken,” Bogaard said. “We are confident that we have built a system that can, not only, first and foremost help our classmates at BU, but be in a position to help students across the country.”
Shaheena Nathani, a School of Hospitality Administration junior, said the lack of legitimate opposition is why she will continue to use myBookCrate.
“They have no competitors,” Nathani said. “It’s either sell your books back to Barnes & Noble for a severe loss or try Amazon if you’re lucky, but other than that, there’s nothing else.”
Chris Chu, a Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences junior, said he started using myBookCrate after he heard about it from Bogaard last year because it is so convenient.
“Well, the nice thing about the website is that I put my credit card on there,” Chu said. “So, it is just linked to my bank account, and so I don’t have to deal with cash and handoff.”
Chu said that he likes using myBookCrate instead of other textbook-selling services because he knows he will get a fair price.
“I like using the website itself because it is pretty easy to use,” he said. “I just put in the ISBN number for all my books, and it gives me the price compared with the Amazon price, so it gives me a really good range of how much I should sell it for.”