Ten-year-old KSA book-selling service still saving students money
April 12, 2011 by Max Hirtz
It’s that time of year again when many students haul their no-longer-needed textbooks to Kwantlen’s bookstore in an attempt to make a little money.
In the past, this was the only option, but in the last few years, several alternative book-buying and book-selling services have become available.
BCbookworm is a free service that was created in 2001 to help match up students who didn’t want to go through the bookstore.
Michael Robson, BCbookworm’s creator, was a business student at Kwantlen when he built the site. He decided to create a service where people could buy and sell used textbooks for reasonable prices after becoming fed up with how little money the bookstore was paying students for their books and how much they were reselling them for.
Originally, the website was not automated, so Robson would manually try to match buyers with sellers using an Excel spreadsheet.
“I would literally buy from one guy and, like a dealer, sell to another guy,” he said.
Eventually he hired a professional web designer to set up an automated system that could run on its own.
The KSA caught wind of the project soon after it was created and asked Robson to join its team. Robson left Kwantlen in 2003, and the site has been controlled by the KSA since then.
The site has remained almost untouched by the KSA over the last 10 years, and Robson’s original mini-bio, now outdated, is still displayed on the About page.
Things haven’t changed much since 2001, Robson said, as textbook publishers continue to find new ways to get students to buy new editions of textbooks every year.
“The publishing business, when they play these kinds of games, people don’t like it. It’s not a good business model,” he said. “They’re sowing the seeds of their own demise.”
Creating a service where students could cut out the middleman and sell textbooks directly to each other was the solution he decided would work best.
“I built this thing because a reaction to the ultimate ripoff that everyone was feeling from the local bookstore,” he said. “You’re just a kid. You hardly have any money anyway.”