The person behind Keepmeout and Quezti, local Edinburgh University student Ali Eslami has recently started a textbook exchange site – Book Adopter. I met up with Ali and asked him about his new web app …
So Ali, tell me about your new startup.
Our latest project is called BookAdopter, and it’s a website that helps students buy and sell their university textbooks. Check it out at http://bookadopter.com.
Why another textbook exchange site? Why do you think you’ll succeed where others have failed?
It just doesn’t make sense that students buy the same textbooks over and over every year. Not only does this have a significant cost for students, it also has serious consequences for the environment.
The fact that there have been so many other attempts at tackling this problem shows us that people recognise the need for a solution. It’s just that up until recently we haven’t had the right combination of tools to come up with such a solution.
Online social networks are now ubiquitous and dense enough to make such exchange platforms really work. With BookAdopter we’re trying to strike the perfect balance between simplicity and ‘network-awareness’, and that’s why we think it’ll be a success.
How have you tried to make BookAdopter distinctive?
The website is distinctive for three reasons: 1) it’s free, 2) it’s simple, and 3) it makes it easy to share listings.
BookAdopter is free for everyone. Neither sellers nor buyers pay us a penny.
BookAdopter is simple. To use the website you won’t ever have to register, sign up, or provide your bank account details.
Perhaps most importantly, BookAdopter’s integration with Facebook changes the role of students (i.e. the sellers) from a traditionally passive one to an active one. Sellers can post an individual book listing (or a list of all of their uploaded books) to Facebook with a single click. This is much easier than having to manually design, print and pin posters.
Tell me about your team.
I co-founded the website with Philippe Ducrest, a Business student at the University of Edinburgh. We share the same vision for the project, so it’s been great fun working together over the past few months.
I’m currently studying for a PhD in AI at the University of Edinburgh. I’ve worked on a number of projects like this in the past; perhaps the most successful of which has been KeepMeOut: http://keepmeout.com.
Wil Whiting, a University of Edinburgh alumni, has also recently joined our team and will be helping us to develop and promote BookAdopter across the UK.
Do you need anything from our readers?
To turn BookAdopter into a success, we need to get as many books in our database as we can. So if any of your readers have textbooks they want to get rid of, they should upload them to BookAdopter!
And if they don’t, it’d be great if they could tell their friends about our website, because almost certainly some of them will have books that they no longer need.
We’re also working on an ‘ambassador program’ to help students help us promote BookAdopter at different universities, so if any one would like to work with us, please do get in touch!