TextbookAlley: Design of an Online Book Exchange Site for Smith


Entrepreneurial Team: Frances Bell, Jennifer Peagler, Elyse Steiner

2006-2007:  With support from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, this entrepreneurial student team designed and developed an online business through which Smith students could buy and sell books between each other.  Buying college textbooks can be an expensive and troublesome process, and is often limited to two main options: the campus bookstore and online venues.  Bookstores provide local access to required texts and allow buyers to view the book before purchasing, but charge high prices and often buy back used texts from students for only pennies on the dollar.  Online book trading allows students to buy books for less and sell for more, but sellers can be unreliable and book conditions may be questionable.

The goal of this project was to develop a middle ground for Smith students that would provide them the reliability and availability of the book store with the low rates of the online option.  The team conducted market research with Smith students to determine customer needs.  Based on this information, the team developed an integrated database and user interface, refining the design based on feedback from test users.  The team also drafted a business plan that detailed the opportunity, competition, marketing strategy, and plans for implementation.