As this semester comes to an end, the college bookstore has taken over MiddBooks, a book-trading website set up by students Pete Palumbo ’20 and Marty Williams ’20 at the beginning of this academic year to facilitate peer-to-peer exchange after the bookstore stopped carrying books.
The MiddBooks website, accessible at go/middbooks, is entirely free for both buyers and sellers. It functions as a platform for individual classified ads, similar to the Free & For Sale Facebook page that many students have used to buy and sell books in the past. The key difference is that MiddBooks is organized by academic subject. To make a post, students can click on the appropriate subject and leave a comment with the information for the book they want to sell. MiddBooks does not facilitate online payments, so students will be expected to decide on fair prices and exchange money among themselves.
Bookstore Manager Erin Jones-Poppe initially reached out to MiddBooks earlier this year to ask about the future of the site. She had been recommending MiddBooks to students trying to sell books that were not being accepted by the official buyback program, but she wanted to talk more about how the bookstore could promote and support MiddBooks as a resource for students looking to buy books.
In fact, Palumbo had been considering letting MiddBooks die after its slow start last fall, when the books posted on the site vastly outweighed the number of sales.
When Jones-Poppe met with Palumbo and John Schurer ’21, who joined MiddBooks to help with marketing this J-term, they decided that the best option for MiddBooks would be absorption by the bookstore, since the bookstore can offer increased publicity and a free website on which MiddBooks can operate. Palumbo self-financed the previous MiddBooks website, middbooks.com, so the bookstore reimbursed him for the payments he had made for the domain.
“By being assumed by the bookstore, we’re able to email the whole school at once, link through the school’s website, maintain our free status indefinitely and also have a clear path after I graduate as far as who takes over the mantle,” said Palumbo, who has managed the MiddBooks site largely on his own since his co-founder went abroad this Winter Term.
To help students see which of their books are in demand, MiddBooks will be posting the bookstore’s official spreadsheet that lists required texts for the coming semester. But not every required book will make it onto the spreadsheet.
“Not every professor submits the page back in time in order for the bookstore to know what textbooks they’re using, so even if you don’t see your textbook on there, it’s still probably worth your time to post it anyway,” Palumbo said.
The bookstore also hosts a book buyback program operated by MBS Direct, their online bookselling partner, but MBS Direct does not accept all books for buyback. And MiddBooks may prove to be a better option for student sellers if buyers on campus are willing to pay more for quick, in-person book exchange than MBS Direct can offer for buybacks.
Palumbo points out that MiddBooks is also the more environmentally friendly and carbon neutral option, since no shipping has to be involved when a book is going “from Battell to Pearsons.”