New textbook exchange site helps students ‘defy’ publishers

College students spend more than $900 annually on textbooks.

After a bachelor’s degree, a law degree, and a business degree, Derek Haake estimates his total textbook costs at around $20,000 — and now he’s hitting back at the publishing industry with a website that could slash college students’ book costs.

Haake, of Akron, Ohio, launched the site in April, creating a forum for students hoping to sell their textbooks for more than a few bucks to peers looking to save cash on used books.

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Using BookDefy’s software, students can privately list their used textbooks. Other students – once they find the book they’re searching for – can privately message the seller and arrange a textbook swap at local businesses and campus hangouts designated by BookDefy, which is free for college students.

“One of the things that kept plaguing me was the high costs of books,” Haake, 32, said of his time in higher education. “Instead of sitting around and complaining I wanted to get out there and do something about it. … I want to turn this whole parasitic industry on its head and do something good for college students.”

Haake said BookDefy has about 100 members so far, and he expects that number to rise when the site begins its marketing campaign later this year.

BookDefy appeals to both book buyers and sellers because the site gives students a way to get “much more than what the bookstores will pay, but still less than the bookstores charge,” he said.

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