- Associated Press - Sunday, August 6, 2017

WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) - Buying textbooks each semester becomes costly for many college students.

Per a 2014 report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, college students spend $1,200 per year on books and supplies.

Two McDaniel College graduates and one senior are working to make sure students don’t break the bank when it comes to textbooks and school supplies.

Brandon Cortese, a McDaniel senior, and graduates Hunter Metcalf and Dajuan Price have been working on an app called bookSwap in an attempt to help college students. The idea is a platform for college students to socially interact and sell and buy used textbooks or school supplies with a mobile application.

“We figured, why is this a thing? Why is it always so expensive (to buy books)?” Price said.

Their venture, bookSwap, is one of five finalists in this year’s Carroll Biz Challenge that will compete in the Live Finale on Thursday, Aug. 10. The annual Carroll Biz Challenge, sponsored by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, showcases Carroll entrepreneurs during a show similar to “Shark Tank” for local startups at the Carroll Arts Center, according to chamber President Mike McMullin.

The winner will receive a $7,500 grand prize to apply to their business costs.

“What (bookSwap) does is it creates a marketplace for students who are looking to buy or sell textbooks,” said Price, of Clinton, Maryland.

It would be localized to individual college campuses, so students would be meeting up with people they’re going to school with, he said.

“You know who the buyer and seller is,” he added.

But the bookSwap team isn’t just looking to create a marketplace to buy and sell books. Price said they’re also looking to add a section for people to market their skills, like tutoring or hair cutting.

Cortese, of East Windsor, New Jersey, said the main problem with just buying and selling textbooks is that there are only two peak times this happens - at the beginning and end of semesters.

“The problem with that is that middle of the semester,” he added, when there’s not much foot traffic.

So, Cortese said, they thought adding another part to the concept could help students make money on their own time and their own terms.

“It’s better than a part-time job,” he said.

Metcalf, of Blain, Pennsylvania, said their idea is something that can really benefit students. Textbooks are expensive and students don’t get a big return trying to sell them back, he added. And trying to figure out how to pay for everything as a college student gets tough with all of the expenses.

“It gets overwhelming really quickly,” Metcalf said.

Metcalf, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in art with a specialization in graphic design and minor in art history, said his role in bookSwap has been helping create the visual concept for the app.

The idea came about from Cortese, Price said, when he and Cortese were talking one day. It just kind of took off, said Price, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in communication.

“It really just came to be from students complaining to me,” said Cortese, who is majoring in sociology and computer science.

If you ask students what some of the problems in college are, they always talk about not having enough money, he said. This app will allow them to soften the financial burden of book buying, and give them a chance to market themselves and their skills, he said.

Cortese said the plan is to start it out at McDaniel to work out the kinks, and then from there, to try to move it out to other schools.

“It’s like a marketplace created by the students for the students,” Cortese added.


Information from: Carroll County Times , https://www.carrollcountytimes.com/

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