Yesterday at 1 a.m., Harpaul A. Kohli '01 did something hundreds of Harvard students have done before. He ordered textbooks on the Internet.
What made Kohli's purchase memorable was that it marked the first sale on the Web site of a new player in the lucrative business of selling textbooks over the Internet: the Undergraduate Council.
The launching of the UC Books Web site at 12:01 a.m. yesterday--just an hour before Kohli placed his order--represented the start of a business venture that council members hope will have strong repercussions across the Harvard campus.
For Council Technology Coordinator Paul A. Gusmorino '02, the Web site marks the end of months of difficult programming.
For Michael D. Shumsky '00 and John Paul Rollert '00, the chair and vice-chair of the Committee of Undergraduate Education (CUE), it is the end of long negotiations with administrators and book vendors over server space and discount prices.
For new Council President Fentrice D. Driskell '01, it means a potential new source of revenue for an under-funded council whose bid for a term bill increase failed.
The new site presents serious competition for the student founders of Flyingchickens.com, now called Limespot.com, who launched their site last fall. For students beginning their shopping period today, UC Books means that they will have yet another option in their quest to minimize what can be one of the biggest costs of going to college.
Exercise in Logistics