Site offers used books a million to students

In addition to the hectic search for classes, shopping period often means having to look for reasonably-priced textbooks. But the Yale College Council’s YaleStation Web site is making things easier for students struggling to cover the rising cost of textbooks.

The site provides an online forum — accessible at yalestation.org/books — that allows students to buy and sell used books with no service charge and no shipping costs.

Started in fall 2002, the online bookselling service was developed to provide a more cost-effective alternative to local and online bookstores, which charge buyers a fee when reselling books, YaleStation founder Alexander Clark ’04 said.

“The Yale Bookstore and Book Haven and the other local booksellers are in business to make a profit,” Clark said. “Amazon also has fees. So I thought it would be in the best interest of the Yale community to have this free service.”

To sell a book on YaleStation, a student must log on and enter the book’s ISBN number. The Web site automatically uses this number to pull up the book’s author, title, publishing information and retail price, Clark said.

“The retail price is really probably the most useful feature because it gives students an easy way to see how to price their books,” Clark said. “You can also enter the condition of the book and some comments about it in addition to adding whether or not the asking price is negotiable.”

To find a book, one can either enter the ISBN number or search by subject or author and title. A list of available books comes up, from which the potential buyer can choose one and write to the seller to ask a question or place a bid.

Up to this point, neither the buyer’s nor the seller’s name is disclosed. But if the bid is accepted, they each receive e-mails revealing the other’s identity so they can set up a meeting place for the exchange.

With over $100,000 in textbooks currently available for sale, the site has seen significant growth since its inception.

Another alternative for students looking to buy cheap books is The Used Book Agency, or TUBA, a student-run service that allows students to sell textbooks on consignment. The books are held by TUBA until they are purchased, and the student receives 75 percent of the proceeds if a sale is made.

“I like going to TUBA because they have a pretty big inventory, and it’s all used books from students, but you do have to be willing to bend over for a while and sort of peer at all the shelves,” Diana Swett ’05 said. “[At YaleStation] the inventory’s not as big, but I usually check there before buying my books.”

Those students who have found what they are looking for on YaleStation said they often find good deals. Anna Mandel ’07, who has bought about 10 books through YaleStation, said she paid $25 for a cell biology book in good condition that cost $63 new and $45 used at the Yale Bookstore.

“It’s fabulous,” Mandel said. “[YaleStation is] significantly cheaper. The quality is better than used books at the Bookstore, and it’s a better deal because you can negotiate the price.”

The service is part of YaleStation’s Marketplace project, an online forum that will be expanded to include furniture sales and general classified listings within about a week, Clark said. Additionally, books without ISBN numbers, such as printed course readers, will be available in the expanded Marketplace.

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Brendan Kearney
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