The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

PangoBooks fuses reading with online marketplace

Olivia McAfoos
Pages being flipped through on Oct. 10.

In the age of technology, with social media and TV providing an endless stream of content, some people may find it difficult to unplug and read a book for a change. PangoBooks claims to be an app dedicated to changing modern attitudes toward reading. 

PangoBooks is an app that allows users to discover new reads as well as sell books they’ve already read, keeping a rotating library of books at their fingertips. 

The app aims to merge the hobby of reading with an online marketplace in a style meant to feel personal to its users. 

The app offers an outlet for users to discover new books based on their interests and then buy those books from its sellers. 

Dan Orkin, head of marketing and customer experience at PangoBooks, believes the nuance the app brings to bookselling is its accessibility and personal flair.  

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“I think our differentiating factor is just the ease of selling, and then really the app is just designed in such a way that it’s supposed to feel a bit more social like you’re connecting with other people directly as opposed to buying a faceless emporium,” Orkin said. 

The inspiration for the app came from Grant Singleton, a father trying to sell picture books his children had grown out of. 

“He was sort of weighing the different options for selling books as an individual online and found that (the options) were really lacking,” Orkin said. “Some of the bigger players, you know, Amazon being the most obvious example, really catered more towards professional operations and retailers.” 

PangoBooks is meant to be designed for the average person looking to grow their shelves or to pass on books they no longer need or want.

“Really everything in the app has been engineered for that type of person,” Orkin said. “It all kind of comes from that initial idea that we could really build something as engaging and easy to use as possible.” 

Many students at the University enjoy reading as a pastime. Although they keep a busy schedule, they value making time for books. 

Wren Dulnev, sophomore in LAS, mentioned the positive ways reading affects them.

“I love (reading),” Dulnev said. “It just takes me to a different place and it gets my mind off things. I think it’s a good break from being on screens all the time.”

Ella Mixer, freshman in LAS, shared similar thoughts with Dulnev about reading.

“I feel like it’s a nice break from my schoolwork without being super unproductive,” Mixer said.

One particular struggle that some people express about reading is figuring out what book they want to read next. 

“(Using PangoBooks) would give me more options,” Mixer said. “A lot of the time when I’m in between books I’ll have to wait for a recommendation from friends.”

The PangoBooks app also includes a feature called HeyPango, an artificial intelligence tool that allows users to find books they may be interested in based on their preferences and previous reads. 

“HeyPango is sort of like a book recommendation bot,” Orkin said. “So you can say something like, ‘Oh, the last book I loved was ‘Fourth Wing,’ what’s another great book?’ I think by making it really easy for people to discover books, they find great value in the books they’re buying.” 

Orkin also noted the human feature PangoBooks could add to buying and selling books may create positive interpersonal connections compared to other methods of swapping books. He believed this was what could make the app a unique tool. 

“What we see a lot of times is that people will message a buyer and say, ‘If you’re interested in this one then you might be interested in this one too’ and that kind of thing,” Orkin said. “You can follow other sellers and get alerts on books for sale. So, if you see somebody who has a similar taste in books to you, they might list other books you’re interested in.”

The opportunity to sell old books through PangoBooks sparked the interest of Dulnev. 

“I have 10 books that I don’t think I’m gonna read ever and I have a bunch I have read that’s just taking space on my shelf,” Dulnev said. “It would probably encourage me to read books so that I could sell them and get money.” 

PangoBooks invites University students to give their app a try. Using the code WELCOME will give first-time users $5 off their first purchase of $20 or more. 

“I think books are meant to be read, but also sort of allowing people to celebrate the idea of collecting and searching and finding a certain copy of a book or cool cover, encourages people to be more engaged with reading as part of the hobby experience as well,” Orkin said.


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