Shopping period stress may soon be allayed by a new Yale-designed tool. Three members of the Yale community, Aaron Shim ’16, Apurv Suman ’16 and Timur Guler ’18, are working on BoolaBooks, an app to help Yale students quickly buy and sell textbooks. The app is expected to be released on the App Store for iPhones on Monday.
According to Suman, BoolaBooks first began in August 2014 as BoolaMarket, a marketplace for Yale students to buy and sell items. Suman and Shim, as well as Kevin Fung ’17, were involved with BoolaMarket.
“The options for students weren’t sufficient for people to buy and sell their things,” said Suman. “What came out of that was the hypothesis that a network-based marketplace can have a lot of value. We wanted to create a used marketplace unique to one group of people — that group of people being Yale students.”
Suman noted that after the BoolaMarket project declined he and Shim decided to focus specifically on a textbook marketplace for Yale, motivated by business opportunities, technology considerations and the scope of potential impact.
Guler, who joined the team last semester to take charge of sales and marketing, said the team will first ensure that the technology is as efficient as possible before turning toward business and revenue.
“We were looking at the need within the Yale community and thought about the textbook-buying process as one of the few things that affected everyone,” Guler said. “It’s less than ideal right now, so a lot of what we did was focus groups and surveys about what people’s needs were right now and what was available.”
Suman added that their main goal was to make it easy for students to buy and sell used textbooks, pointing out that textbooks comprise a big portion of the rising costs of going to college in the United States. He also said part of the motivation for creating BoolaBooks was the inconvenience of buying and selling textbooks online, given the time required for shipping and dealing with post offices.
Rachel Ha ’17 used the app this year to sell her textbooks, after a positive experience buying furniture on BoolaMarket. She said that one distinguishing aspect of BoolaBooks it is the seller’s ability to see how others have priced the same book.
“Because they made it so simple, it takes you not even a minute to upload a book you want to sell and add the information related to the course,” Ha said. “There’s not a ton of people using it now, so there aren’t too many books to buy and sell now, but I think it’s pretty easy to use and has a lot of potential.”
He said that BoolaBooks is a two-step scan and upload app, and its simplicity means that more people will easily find what they’re looking for. Suman also noted one of the key features of the app: the ability to chat.
Suman added that the team had set a “North Star goal” of allowing users to upload a book to the app in the time required to send a Snapchat message.
According to Guler, BoolaBooks is also partnering with the Office of Sustainability to promote the use of the app, noting that disposing of used textbooks is a waste of both money and resources. BoolaBooks is promoting a culture of reusing, Guler said, with the idea that if students reuse their textbooks through the app, they might think about how they can reuse in other aspects of their life and become more sustainable citizens.
“The Office of Sustainability encourages programs and initiatives on campus to promote a culture of reuse at Yale,” said Amber Garrard, the senior manager of the Office of Sustainability. “We’re excited that BoolaBooks is offering such an initiative, look forward to promoting its use.”
Moving forward, Suman hopes to expand to other schools. He acknowledges that while different campuses have the similar problems related to textbook markets, the students are of different demographics, which will make expansion a valuable learning experience.
BoolaBooks is now available both on the App Store and online at boolabooks.com.