Thursday, December 10, 2009

Strapped for cash? Swap your textbooks online

Sharon Ho
Issue date: 11/30/09

Students can choose to swap college textbooks online at the end of the semester instead of selling them back to the bookstore. and, based in New York City and Sunnyvale CA, began operations in 2004 and 2007 respectively. provides swapping services for textbooks, literature and DVDs while helps to facilitate the swapping of college textbooks.

Both companies do not earn any profits from their college textbooks swapping services.

"The goal of our service is first to provide a worry-free trading system for book and movie lovers, and second to eventually make a profit," said Mitchell Silverman, one of the two founder of Bookins in a phone interview with The San Matean. "On average, we make about $1 of the $4.49 shipping fee. That is after we pay for the postage itself, delivery confirmation, credit card fees, and fee for printing prepaid postage. This $1 covers overhead and salaries and, eventually, any profits we make. does not earn any money from shipping college textbooks as they tend to be heavier." is an Amazon affliate, said Silverman. gets six percent commission for every book that is bought from Amazon through the website.

"We are a commercial venture looking to help students save and make money, wrote Kevin Hornschemeier, one of the two founders of in an e-mail interview with the San Matean. "Textbook Revolt takes no money from students. We have them pay for shipping on their own and we make nothing off of this."

"Boaz (Salik, the second founder,) and I both like to read and used to exchange books," said Silverman. "We were two families living in small New York apartments who usually donated our books to the library after reading them. One day the New York library stopped accepting book donations, and we did not know what to do with our books. We decided to create a website where literature lovers could swap books online for free." later expanded to include college textbooks and DVDs.

"While in college we (Hornschemeier and co-founder Jaisen Mathai) both felt the pain of buying extremely expensive textbooks and barely getting anything when selling them back," wrote Hornschemeier. "We felt there should be a better, cheaper way to get our textbooks. By creating Textbook Revolt we are bringing together students across the country to help each other out in the never-ending quest to alleviate the textbook burden." has filed a patent this year for the Bayesian logic system that currently uses.

The system fairly determines the value of how much a book or DVD is worth, said Silverman. works with United States Postal Service for all shipping nationwide.

"USPS has an impressive system where you can print postage online," said Silverman. "USPS triggers e-mails and allows us to track the delivery status of the items, which we then pass on to our customers." will be relaunching their website in December.

"Textbook Revolt started out as a textbook swapping service," wrote Hornschemeier.

"This was a great start, but we wanted to find a way to save students money and help them make money. In December we will be launching a new version of Textbook Revolt. The new version will allow students to rent out their used textbooks to other students," said Hornschemeier.

"Unlike other services where students sell their books, they get to make money while retaining ownership of their book, and they can continue to rent the book out each semester and make even more money," Hornschemeir said. "Students needing textbooks will also save a lot of money by renting textbooks from other students. Textbook Revolt will facilitate all transactions, and allow users to easily print prepaid shipping labels, to make the process simple and able to be done from home." states that all books and DVDs must be in good condition, said Silverman. trusts its users and therefore guarantees the issue of free credit for customers who have received damaged items. To be more environmentally-friendly, reuses its packages.

The results of the latest Bookins survey conducted earlier this year found that around 70 percent of their users are women, with users being predominantly in their mid-20s to mid-30s, said Silverman. has employees scattered nationwide. founders Hornschemeier and Mathai have worked together on numerous ventures since meeting over five years ago in 2005.

Mathai was co-founder of Photagious, an online photo sharing web site, and Hornschemeier was hired on as the lead engineer. Hornschemeier now works as a web developer at Strata-G, one of Cincinnati's advertising and marketing agencies, and Mathai is a software engineer at Yahoo! Inc.

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