If spending less than $200 a semester for textbooks sounds too good to be true, ask Santa Ana-bred Jeremy Cole about it. After all, creating a textbook loaning service that'd cost students $150 overall (and not per textbook) is the end-goal of his Indiegogo campaign.
"I personally feel like students are being abused by schools and publishers," Cole says. "We don't have to charge people these outrageous prices." During a conversation with a peer last October, he realized he wanted to create a safe space for students to loan and borrow books — so he began conceptualizing Textbook Collective.
Coming from a family of educators, Cole is adamant about his student-first mentality, which is focused on lowering prices and increasing accessibility. For Cole, Orange Coast College's book reserve program was what gave him access to textbooks as an undergraduate (and would later be the source of inspiration for Textbook Collective). When he moved on to Cal State Fullerton, moreover, he understood the value of OCC's book reserve program because it was nonexistent at his new school.
In the Textbook Collective system, students would loan out their used books, receive credit for them, and then use that credit to borrow new books. Textbook Collective's database will indicate which books are in need and which ones aren't. When students no longer need a book, they simply send them back to Textbook Collective with a prepaid shipping label. All in all, Cole aims to charge around $13 per book a semester.
In the long run, Cole hopes to create chapters on college campuses and eventually give out scholarships for textbooks. "We hope that by raising the money we can start without venture capital — that way our investors are the students," Cole says. "That's who we're responsible to."
The difference between Textbook Collective and a school library, Cole explains, is that Textbook Collective will have the most current books. "School libraries are awesome, but most don't have current textbooks," he says. "You can do the research you need for class but not your homework problems. What if there's an open book test and you only have an e-book? There's something about having the physical book that's convenient."
A business idea like Textbook Collective's, however, isn't without its challenges, and Cole acknowledges this. Textbook Collective's Indiegogo page, in fact, states that they anticipate struggles with building software in a timely manner and getting enough books into the system.
Interested in this idea? If so, give their page a read.