Student-run book buyback finding some success

Books sold to the sophmores Joe Prescott and Ed are stacking up. (Ellie Galgano/TommieMedia)
Books sold to the sophomores Joe Prescott and Michael Ed are stacking up. (Ellie Galgano/TommieMedia)

At the end of the fall semester, two students decided to create their own book buyback program to give St. Thomas students an alternative to selling their books back to the bookstore.

Sophomores Joe Prescott and Michael Ed decided that the students are not receiving enough money when they sell their books to the bookstore and created what they believe to be a more cost efficient option.

“Last year we brought some books back and realized that people are getting ripped-off, essentially,” Prescott said. “So we thought, ‘There’s got to be something better than this. We can do better than this.’”

Ed said the final straw for him was when he sold a book back for a fraction of what he paid.

“I remember last year I bought a book for $120 and only got $20 back for it,” Ed said. “So we spread the word around and received 130 books immediately, and sold all of those in two weeks. We sold so many books so quickly that we couldn’t control it.”

Building credibility

Prescott and Ed think they have found large success with their small business, although many were initially skeptical of their idea. They said they faced opposition to their plans from disbelievers who doubted people would be willing to invest.

“We took in those 130 books that people gave us, and sold them, and then we were able to pay those people back,” Ed said. “So the biggest change is that we’re paying out now.”

Although it was not difficult to find students to offer books, some wondered whether Prescott and Ed would be able to sell those books in order to pay back their investors.

“A lot of people were asking ‘Can you really guarantee that?’ and we can now,” Prescott said.

An offer students can’t refuse

Ed and Prescott believe that their way is a surefire method of promising students a larger payout than the bookstore offers.

“This is for when the school has the book buyback so students can check the price of the book,” Ed said. “So we just use this Web site, and so far it’s been really spot on.”

On the online buyback Web page is a link to the bookstore Web site that allows students to check the amount they will receive for their textbooks.

“So basically what we do is type in the ISBN number, and see how much the bookstore offers to guarantee that we can give the students more money than the bookstore,” Prescott said.

The two have been able to offer at least 10 percent and even as high as 50 percent more than the bookstore, a method that has proven to be effective for their business.

“That’s what we guarantee to make people come to us,” Prescott said. “Then we’ll turn around and sell the book cheaper than the bookstore will sell it.”

And the same goes for students who wish to buy books. Ed and Prescott promise to sell books for less than the bookstore asks for used books.

“There was a book yesterday I sold to one of my buddies. It was $75 at the bookstore, but we sold it for $60,” Ed said.

Extra benefits

Although Prescott and Ed have been able to pocket some of the profits from their business, they have found the experience to be invaluable in other ways.

Prescott is a double major in Business and Engineering and has enjoyed learning about the world of business first hand.

“It’s been a great experience learning how to run things in a business setting and not mess it up,” Prescott said.

Handling money and goods has also taught them important lessons and life skills.

“As stupid and simple as this, sounds we’re learning how to use mail and use the bank,” Ed said.

Aside from financial lessons, the pair has gotten a chance to meet new faces and get around campus.

“We get calls from new, random people all the time. It’s actually really cool,” Ed said. “It really keeps us busy and keeps us meeting new people.”

Ed and Prescott accept and sell books at any time during the semester. They plan on running the buyback as long as they are students at St. Thomas.

Ellie Galgano can be reached at