Alumnus launches swapping site
By Sergio Candido
Two years ago while serving as North Campus Student Government Association president, Lance McGibbon was frustrated with skyrocketing textbook prices.
He searched for alternatives to the bookstore and online services. At the time, red tape blocked his attempts to make a difference. But it did not deter him from finding a solution.
On Oct. 31, McGibbon, now an economics student at Columbia University, launched a book-swapping network that he believes is poised to revolutionize the way students get their college textbooks.
The project --Text4swap.com-- is being launched nation-wide. It will serve as a book-for-book swapping network that makes it possible for students to exchange the books they have for the books they want.
“This is by students for students,” McGibbon said.
First year membership for the system will be free; a $10 charge will be assessed every year after that. According to McGibbon, 10 percent of all fees collected will be donated back to the purchasers’ home campus.
“If 500 people from North Campus sign up and pay the $10 fee, 500 dollars of that money will go to their campus,” McGibbon said.
The system allows students to decide how exchanges are carried out. If a swap can’t be arranged, students have the option of buying the book from its owner.
“Let’s say a student sends an offer to buy a book for $80, and you want $100, you can send it back and negotiate the value,” McGibbon said. “I wanted it to be a free student movement; you get to control pricing, shipping, and the swapping.”
To protect its members and to promote fair and fast swapping, he has developed a 5-star rating system.
“Students will be able to rate the person that they swap with, this way, swappers are able to get an idea of how reliable each swapper is by reviewing his or her ratings,” McGibbon said.
One of the most common questions that McGibbon is asked from fellow students is: “what if my book is worth more than the one I’m swapping for?”
“If it’s more expensive the one that you’re sending compared to the one that you are getting, you don’t have to accept that swap,” McGibbon said.
And, “what about when books change editions, do students have to buy new books?”
"Yes, they have no other choice. One of my key objectives is to eventually be able to approach state legislators to push for a restriction on how often publishers change books’ editions,” McGibbon said.
Another bonus of the project, McGibbon said, is that textbook swapping is environmentally friendly.
“If you have all these books circulating for a longer period, that equals less new books being published and less trees being killed,” McGibbon said.
Current SGA President Juliette Llado said that she supports the system and recognizes McGibbon’s role as a community leader.
“He always made sure that the students voices were heard,” Llado said. “I think that students are definitely going to support it.”
At the North Campus, faculty and students are welcoming the program with open arms.
“Based on our current economy, this, as well as many other different initiatives taking place nation-wide to reduce the current prices of textbooks is crucial for our students,” said Jaime Anzalotta, the director of the student life department at the North Campus, via e-mail.
North Campus Dean of Students Malou Harrison thinks that students stand to benefit from the new options available to them.
“It is refreshing to see what has cropped up recently in terms of the variety of opportunities for students to be able to obtain texts and other instructional materials,” Harrison said via e-mail.
Diana Lopez, 24, education major, spent about $400 in book expenses for the three classes that she is taking this semester. Lopez believes the program could work.
“It seems so easy, I would definitely use it and I don’t see why anybody else wouldn’t try it,” Lopez said.
McGibbon is confident that students will embrace the project.
“I think this is going to be one of the most effective alternatives to online [book] selling and buying,” McGibbon said.