More University of Calgary students bought and sold used textbooks online this December than ever before. Currently, two websites allow U of C students to post and view free used book classifieds. The student-run textbookswap.ca, and the U of C Bookstore's site help students sell used books privately.
"There are currently 5,801 books posted on our website," said Brent Beatty, Operations Supervisor at the U of C Bookstore. "There was an increase of 1,200 books since
Dec. 12. Those are our highest numbers so far."
By selling a used textbook privately a student can avoid paying commission on the sale of that book.
U of C graduates John Shannon and Dave Patrick created the textbookswap.ca in October 2001. The site is now run by a non-profit student group called Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship.
"ACE is national organization at over 40 campuses," said Greg Audley, Vice-President Corporate Relations for ACE. "We would like to have the textbook swap service on other campuses that have ACE chapters. We would like to see which chapter could create the best website."
Beatty believes that the popularity of online classifieds will continue to increase.
"It can only go up because it's a free service for students and it gives them another option," he said.
The increase in the number of students going online for used books could mean a decrease in business for the Student Union's Used Bookstore. However, SU Vice-President Operations and Finance Robbie White thinks the websites are a positive thing.
"Competition is good," he said. "It gives students better prices and saves them money. It might decrease our revenue a bit, but it won't ruin the SU."
Selling books privately through a website still only makes up a small fraction of the market. A large majority of students still prefer to buy and sell used books through the Used Bookstore out of habit or because they find it more convenient, according to White. The instant cash of the U of C Bookstore's buy-back system is also an attractive option.