NDbay bypasses bookstore

Author: Ed Cohen

Given the Internet and students’ near-universal displeasure with what the bookstore charges for textbooks and pays for sell-backs, something like this was bound to happen.

In December two sophomores launched an online textbook-trading website, NDbay.com. In its first buy-sell period—the end of fall semester and start of spring—the site generated about 300 sales, said one of its creators, Chris Kelly.

Though the name sounds like the popular online general merchandise auction site eBay, NDbay.com is only for books, only for Notre Dame, and there are no auctions. Also, the listings are free.

Sellers post the titles they have for sale and their asking prices. When a visitor pushes the “buy” button next to a listing, the site sends an e-mail to both the buyer and seller with contact information for each. They then can make arrangements for the exchange. No money changes hands online. Most buyers simply arrange to drop by the seller’s dorm to buy the book, Kelly said.

“We’ve heard from two students who said they saved over $300 [buying and selling using the site],” Kelly said.

Jim O’Connor, manager of the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, says online book exchanges are not much different from bulletin-board-style postings students have long used to swap books among themselves. He said he’s not worried about the competition because the bookstore provides services a book exchange can’t, like tracking exactly what books a faculty member orders and providing refunds on returns if a student drops a class.

NDbay.com can be used only by Notre Dame students and employees because registration calls for a campus computer user ID. Kelly said that about 10 percent of students had registered as of late February, which was the goal for the entire first year. About 2,000 books had been posted for sale, he said.

Kelly, a business major, programmed the site along with Aaron Wenger, an engineering major. The pair began their career in software development as high-school classmates in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and started a company, Elite Technology Solutions, to develop websites for local businesses. The company still exists.