Illini Book Exchange offers students opportunity to purchase books online

Erin Hirschtick

Erin Hirschtick

By Lisa Chung

A newly proposed bill could require the University to offer a textbook rental policy starting in the 2009-2010 academic year.

As students wait on this proposal to possibly take effect, they are still left buying textbooks at the local bookstores.

However,, a Web site run by University students, offers a less expensive alternative to purchasing textbooks.

Illini Book Exchange, also known as IBX, was initially started in December 2002 by four friends in the Technology Management Club who were frustrated with the lack of bargain prices on textbooks.

“We felt that we were paying more than was necessary. We wanted to cut out the middleman,” said law student James Kinzer, one of the creators of IBX and treasurer of the Technology Management Club.

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    IBX creates a free online marketplace for University students to buy and sell their own textbooks.

    Through the Web site, students are able to list their own prices and also designate a meeting time to make the transaction.

    Joshua Sulkin, a graduate student who helps maintain IBX and is the president of the Technology Management Club, said the average price of each trade is about $40.

    $40 a book, he said, is very good because most of them are larger textbooks, not smaller novels.

    Although textbooks can be sold back to bookstores on campus, the buyback price is determined by demand, not the initial list price.

    Establishing the buyback price for books depends on whether the professor will be using the book for the next semester, said Brad Bridges, the store manager at Illini Union Bookstore, also known as IUB.

    “If the professor is using the book next semester, we offer half the list price. If the professor is not going to use it, we go to a national wholesale company and see what they offer,” Bridges said. If sold to the wholesale company, students will get 33 percent of the price.

    With Web sites like IBX opening new markets for used textbooks, IUB has experienced more competition, Bridges said.

    IUB tries to be aggressive in obtaining used books because that’s what the students want, he added.

    IBX currently has 10,993 active members and 12,569 textbooks in the market. Sulkin wants to eventually expand to the other University of Illinois campuses and perhaps go national.

    “We don’t have a lot of active members because we are a small club and we are not able to advertise as much as we (would) like,” Sulkin said. “Also, some people just like buying from bookstores or from other places like Amazon(.com).”

    Funding for the Web site and other technical costs is partly covered by the Illinois Student Senate, said Melissa Kennedy, junior in LAS and the chair of Academic Affairs in ISS.

    “ISS supports (IBX) because it’s a very good format for students to buy and sell textbooks without having to go to the bookstores,” Kennedy said.