College grad has a better idea
While studying for finals, searching for a job and preparing for her graduation from college, Cypress native Emely Galvez managed to find time to start her own textbook exchange business.
Frustrated by the high price of textbooks at bookstores and low sell-back price, the University of Houston accounting major decided to cut out the middle man.
"The best way to buy books is through other students," she said. "I looked around campus for fliers and message boards for students advertising books they wanted to sell. I could buy the book cheaper from them than at the bookstore and they could get more money selling it to a student than selling it back to the bookstore."
Sometimes she was unable to find a student selling a book she needed. When this happened, Galvez searched for the book online from sites such as Amazon.com. But searching for a book on multiple sites to compare prices and having to pay for shipping was a hassle and inefficient, she said.
Out of her frustration, the Houston Book Exchange at HoustonBookExchange.com was born in November 2010.
Galvez said the website incorporates the advantages of buying and selling from student to student with the ease of a database of all of the books for sale on a single site, and eliminates the need for shipping by dealing locally.
How the site works
A student registers with the site and posts the title and ISBN of the book he or she wants to sell. A buyer, also registered through the site, will request the book. An e-mail containing the buyer's contact information will be sent to the seller.
The two can then negotiate a price and set up a time and location to exchange the book and money.
Jenae Johnson, a public relations major at the University of Houston, said the site was convenient and efficient.
"It was very easy to use," she said. "It didn't take much time to register with the site or post a book. This is just for books, so it's not flooded with other things like Craigslist."
The site's greatest asset according to Johnson is the price of the books on the site and the lack of restrictions on books that can be sold.
"Frequently, I get stuck with books that the bookstore won't buy back," she said. "They are still in great condition, and now another student can buy it for half of what I paid and I will still get some money back for it."
Johnson is doing her part to generate traffic to the site by posting links to it on her Facebook page.
"I heard about it on Facebook, so now I've posted it on Facebook to get others to check it out," she said.
Parents support venture
Galvez was able to start the website through financial support and encouragement from her parents Luis and Flora Galvez, originally from La Union, El Salvador. They are 25 percent owners in the Houston Book Exchange.
"We decided to invest in Houston Book Exchange because we liked the vision that Emely had," said Luis. "She has had leadership characteristics since she was a little girl."
Since graduating, Galvez has become an employee at Noble Engineering. She aims to continue to devote much of her time to the website, and even expects to expand into other cities.
"I've got the domain names for Austin, Dallas and San Antonio," she said. "I've also got the domain name for a Houston Note Exchange so students can contact other students when they have missed a class to get notes from that day."
The cost to register with the site is $1.99 for 15 days of access or $9.99 for a year of access.
Even with the registration fee in place, Galvez said those using the site are still getting a deal.
"EBay and Amazon charge you for each book you post," she said. "You can post as many books as you want for $1.99 on Houston Book Exchange."
In the future, Galvez said she hopes to eliminate a registration fee entirely by generating revenue from advertisers on the site. She said the site needs more visitors and registrants for that to happen.
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