Website developed to buy and sell second-hand textbooks

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Chulumanco Mahamba and Zamayirha Peter 

A University of Pretoria student created a website that allows fellow students from all South African universities to buy and sell second-hand textbooks at a discounted price by advertising on the website.

Zach Wolpe, a third-year BCom Investment Management and Statistics student, created a website called Bid4books.co.za in January.

He said he wanted to create “seamless experience” for students to buy and sell second-hand textbooks and that the current ways to sell and buy textbooks were “outright rubbish.”

“Students spend ridiculous sums of money each year on new textbooks. They use a few chapters for a few months and then simply leave the books to collect dust,” said Wolpe.

He added that students who wish to sell  textbooks can do so by posting an advertisement for the textbook they intend to sell on the website. Thereafter, potential buyers can contact the seller and arrange a sale privately.

Wolpe’s said he wants to expand the products that the website trades.

“The goal is to become the one-stop destination for students to exchange textbooks and other relevant material including calculators and etc,” he said.

This initiative comes after a similar online textbook website SIKIO  was launched in September 2017 by 21-year-old Wits student Ndu Nkwanyana.

Nkwanyana is the co-founder and CEO of SIKIO.

He said he was inspired to create the website because, “At the beginning of the year I realized that I had many textbooks from over the years that I was not using. I decided to give them out for free but at times would struggle to find people who wanted them.”

Nkwanyana added that the overflow of textbooks he had, led to him creating a platform where other students could find a mutual site to sell their textbooks or donate them.

“There are many students on campus that rely on second hand textbooks and some who can’t even afford them, so I thought this website would assist in bridging an existing issue on campus,” said Nkwanyana.

SIKIO is not profit driven, instead the site is being developed to assist student entrepreneurs.

“We don’t make any profit from the textbook trade, but rely on marketing strategies to make money which mostly goes towards maintaining the site. We also want to open up the site for student entrepreneurs to advertise their businesses free of charge and intend to open up the site for more established businesses to use the site to advertise at a rate,” he said.

Many were excited about the website.

“I often move around campus looking for textbooks and it sometimes can be exhausting, first looking for people and then being able to get the textbooks at a good price,”  said third year student Siyabulela Manengele.

Nkwanya says students have responded well to SIKIO. “We also got requests from other universities including University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Cape Town and Rhodes University to name a few. They want us to launch a similar platform for their campuses,” he said.

SIKIO also intends to develop into a website where school leaving students can sell their appliances, such as fridges and lamps. It hopes to become a national student aid for the convenience of students throughout the country.

This article was first published by Wits Vuvuzela.

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