Online book exchange helps students trade texts

Five Portland State seniors were planning a spring break trip to Mexico together but realized that with the expense of schoolbooks their trip might not be possible.

So in an effort to save money for themselves and other students they decided to create a web site for PSU students to sell used textbooks at their own price. offers PSU students the opportunity to post and price their own books online. When another student wants to purchase a book at the agreed price, the students meet and make the sale on their own.

"The feedback has been really positive," Jordan Allen, a senior and business major, said of the web site.

They already have 30-40 users and 70 books posted.

Although still in a free trial run period, students will eventually have to pay an introductory fee and a book-posting fee before they can post their books. Those prices are still undetermined.

The plan is that part of the posting fee will be paid for by student government and other student groups.

"It’s more about giving money back to the students and student groups," said Allen.

Prior to their Wednesday launch last week, Allen and the other members behind spoke with faculty and students about their idea.

They also spoke with Ken Brown, general manager of the PSU bookstore, to see how the textbook pricing and buying business worked, as well as see whether they could work with the bookstore on the creation of the web site.

Brown said book price issues have become a particular issue in college bookstores, and book exchanges are one avenue out there that people can use.

But Brown said the PSU bookstore already has a book exchange site in the works, and some of Allen and the group’s ideas just didn’t work with the way the bookstore runs.

And although not opposed to book exchanges, he said they do pose problems.

With, he said, the problem lies with "no consistency in pricing and a large risk of getting the wrong book."

To counter that problem, Allen said they’re working on placing a calculator on the site that gives the used and suggested retail price of the book.

Their main worry lies with whether the book is going to be used next term, but offer tips for safe buying on their web site that tell students to verify whether the book is going to be used next term by e-mailing the professor or the PSU bookstore.

Allen and the others behind are still working on the web site, and if it’s utilized by students and continues to grow, Allen and the other members behind the website plan to continue running it.

And they all remain hopeful that will remain around long enough for them to do that.

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