Sophomore Starts Up Online Book Exchange

After being inundated with end-of-term e-mails looking to buy and sell textbooks, Maya E. Frommer ’07 decided she’d had enough—and decided to solve the problem by starting up her own book exchange website, which went online just last Monday.

“There just seemed to be too many places for people to [buy and sell books], so I wanted a place where people could congregate,” Frommer said.

The layout of the website is simple. For potential buyers, there is a listing of over 100 books currently being offered for sale, organized by area of study. Each book’s listing contains its seller’s contact information, and seller and buyer must then organize the exchange of book and money themselves.

For those with books to sell, a link to an HTML form allows anyone to submit his or her book’s information to the website.

The site also contains a list of books that have been requested.

The process isn’t fully automated, and after an order has been completed, the seller has to e-mail Frommer in order to remove the listing.

Frommer must also confirm each new listing as it is submitted to the site. She said she wasn’t sure how many requests she has received to date, but that she updates at least twice a day.

The website warns sellers that it may take up to a day for a listing to be posted or removed, though she said the process itself is simple: “It’s just a lot of copying and pasting.”

Though the work can get tedious, Frommer said she doesn’t mind.

“I spend a lot of time on the computer anyway,” she said. “And I like being able to provide a public service.”

Originally, the website was advertised through the Eliot House and Chinese Student Association (CSA) mailing lists, and word has spread fast.

Lisa Zhang ’05, who lives in Kirkland, found out about it via the CSA mailing list. She’s made a tentative sale on a set of books so far.

“The website is pretty useful,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I’m all for students having access to more sources of information and different markets for books.”

“It’s a cool system,” she said.

Frommer said she believes the site’s simplicity is what makes it popular.

“I think people like it because it’s so easy,” she said.

The website can be found at http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~mfrommer/eliotbooks.htm.