Originally published in Orientation 1999
Ecampus, esucks. Despite thousands of dollars spent on ecampus.com advertisements and promotions, the site lacks substance. Open since early July, the site promotes itself as the place for poverty-stricken students looking fo ra good deal on products like books, clothes and electronics. The reality is that the pickings are slim and the savings are debatable, at least for Boston University students.
A key ingredient to ecampus. com is its textbook department. At schools that have signed up with the company such as George Washington University, students can type in their schedules and receive a list of recommended and required books, pricing and availability through ecampus.com. Unfortunately, BU is not one of the schools linked to the site, making what may be a painless and thrifty way to get textbooks off-limits to BU students.
The other option for finding bargain books is browsing through a small supply of textbooks put up for sale by individuals. The books are listed by ISBN number, author, title, publication and a brief description as to their condition, which is written by the seller. The user, however, would need to make sure every aspect of the book – edition, ISBN number, author — matched his needs and then continue hold his breath as to the real condition of the book until he received it three days later.
Users do, though, have thirty days to return purchases. But in the time it takes to ship the book, receive it, realize it’s not the right book and get off the couch to return it, that last used copy of said textbook would be long gone from Barnes 7 Noble’s shelves.
But the site does offer students half-off all books on the New York Times bestseller list including hardback books. Hannibal, which is retail priced at $27.95, sells for $13.75 on ecampus.com—which is a good deal for the small portion of students who choose to read outside of class.
Ecampus.com also sells merchandise ranging from a $48-men’s flannel shirt (available at your local thrift store for $2) to a $10.57 ecampus.com hat. Once again, though, the pickings are slim and the savings small to nonexistent. A few shirts, ecampus paraphernalia and a few electronic accessories (i.e. Case Logic Diskette holder) are it.
The best thing about ecampus.com, though, is the auction department. Enterprising students can put their valuables up for sale and hope to find other students stupid enough to buy them. But thanks to one Jacksonville State University student you can buy the empty bottle on his desk for $3,984,775.00 or the trash in his truck, which carries a negotiable price tag. That same student seemed to have found time between classes to place a $90,526,000 bid for another student’s TI-83 Calculator. Either way, his use of the site makes it enjoyable but far from practical.
Overall, the site has potential. However, without developing a much stronger textbook and merchandising book and keeping bored college students from making a mockery of its online auction, ecampus.com will not go far.