Illini Book Exchange saves students money on textbooks

By Karis Morrall

Students looking for a cheaper alternative to the bookstores may have found it on

Electrical engineering graduate student Josh Sulkin and several of his classmates created the website in 2002. Sulkin says he was shocked by the price of textbooks during his first semester at the University.

“I remember that was my first semster at UIUC. I paid 400 dollars for books. That was pretty crazy. And then I sold them back to the bookstore for … so little money. It seemed kinda nuts. So we were all engineering students and knew how to program. Thought this would be a fun project and we’d tell our friends about it. And it just kind of snowballed from there.”

On the website, students post their used textbooks and their contact information. Others can then search for required texts and get in touch with the respective owners. Sulkin says the average textbook on Illini Book Exchange costs about forty dollars.

In early February, a Republican State Senator introduced an amendment to the Higher Education Act that would require Illinois public universities to create textbook rental programs. However, Sulkin says he doubts the efficiency of a state-mandated program.

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“I think such a program would not work. It would be great if the state just subsidized you — if they said, ‘you can pay twenty dollars for every book.’ But that would cost millions of dollars.”

If the bill passes, the University could spend about fifteen-million dollars to initiate the program.