It makes perfect sense. Textbook exchanges between groups of students have been around as long as colleges have been around. All students need to do is to create a direct “marketplace” to buy and sell their textbooks directly between each other and cut out the middle-man, the middle man being the campus book stores in this case. More often than not, students directly buying and selling with each other would produce a slightly more desirable outcome than using the local bookstore or online retailers, but this is essentially an issue of scale in my opinion.
Starting a textbook exchange group requires a lot of organization and effort to get a large amount of students involved. Getting a large number of students involved in your exchange group is crucial, as you need to be able to meet the demand of matching up student A’s textbook request with student B’s textbook to purchase. You need “activity” to make the group desirable and useful for all of those involved. If the group cannot sufficiently meet the demand of the majority involved, the value of the textbook exchange group diminishes and the members will look elsewhere to meet their needs, like the local campus bookstore or a popular online retailer like Amazon Textbooks.
The great news is that Facebook takes all the “grunt” work out of starting up and organizing a massive exchange group. Think about it, the communication platform is already in place for you, as is the marketplace. Facebook IS the communication platform AND it IS the marketplace of students looking to buy and sell textbooks. So, it only makes sense to take advantage of the specific communication and marketplace tools that Facebook provides its users with, such as the ability to create and organize individual Groups, Pages, etc.
Some larger public and private Universities already have active Facebook Groups that act as extremely resourceful marketplaces, while other Universities just need the right student to come along and get the ball rolling by persuading more folks to use their online exchange groups through Facebook messages, invitations, e-mails, dorm bulletin boards, etc. A perfect example of one such student is Yohav Abraham from Binghamton University. Yohav graduated from the school in 2008 and started the Facebook group to give local students an alternative to using the campus book store or selling their textbooks online. The Facebook Group is called “BU Textbook Buying/Selling Central” and it already has over 3,000 students that are members, which is pretty impressive. What is more impressive however is the fact that the group posts an average of 50 new listings each and every day. With consistent “activity” being the key to a successful marketplace, it is safe to consider the “BU Textbook Buying/Selling Central” Facebook Group successful.
We hope to read more stories about proactive students and graduates like Yohav that decide to utilize Facebook’s member tools to launch a local online textbook marketplace and provide alternatives for students that are working with limited budgets. When using ANY online or offline textbook marketplace or exchange group to buy your required textbooks, ALWAYS refer to the exact ISBN number of the textbook you need to purchase. Sometimes people can make the mistake of purchasing the wrong edition and only realize later on when it is too late, so only buy the textbooks that match your required ISBN numbers in order to be safe. If you are selling textbooks on one of these online groups, ALWAYS clearly list the exact ISBN number(s) of the textbook(s) you intend to sell to avoid any unnecessary confusion.
For those unfamiliar with Facebook Groups, here is a short video from Facebook showing how their “Groups” feature works.