Home Articles Here’s to a little disruption in the world of university textbooks

Here’s to a little disruption in the world of university textbooks


Yeah, university textbooks are too expensive.

Even as the rest of the world moves online, those darn books for cost an arm and leg. Don’t publishers know that undergrads have beer to buy? Does no one understand that students have a strict diet of ramen noodles and pizza to uphold? The humanity!

Fortunately, one pair of Melbourne entrepreneurs is taking the sting out of purchasing textbooks.

Former institutional bankers who undoubtedly had to sell blood to afford books for their degrees, Tom McLeod and Oz Akdeniz, have traded in their corporate careers to launch The Booklist, a website that allows users to compare prices on university and school textbooks at the click of a button.

A welcome disruption

With resolve and gusto, the Melbourne pair has set out to challenge the stranglehold of universities over the appalling cost of textbooks, which are mostly boring as heck anyway.  The Booklist lets you source all those overpriced anthologies of bleeding heart poetry and cranium-crumpling mathematics at competitive prices through its network of more than 20 online book retailers.

The Booklist’s founders have conceived the service in response to the greater than 800-per cent increase in textbook costs over the past thirty years. They noted that American students have been pushing back on the rising costs of materials for several years, purchasing used and online over campus-based bookstores.

Doing the good work

The Booklist employs the comparative aggregator model, not unlike that in place on popular travel booking sites. The company actively applies Eric Reis’ lean startup principles to the textbook market place. Their somewhat impulsive, knee-jerk reaction to their own education costs turned into a full-time job.

“It was a huge decision to quit our jobs, but we believed in the concept so strongly that we thought it was an opportunity too good to miss,” said McLeod.

Taking the power back…

For years, Aussie students have accepted the gut-wrenching prices of textbooks as a part of university life, but McLeod and Akdeniz hope to allow students across the country a welcome bit of disruption that will be easy on the wallet.

The Booklist formally launches in the ‘back-to-school’ season, and will offer students up to 80-per cent off the campus bookstore’s price.

“It’s immensely satisfying to work on a project that has the potential to have a tangible and positive impact on people’s lives,” says Akdeniz.

“Taking away some of the financial burden of going to university for students means less time spent slogging away in part-time jobs and more time for them to focus on their educational experience.”

The Booklist team is in talks with Australian universities about possible partnerships that could offer benefits to institutions, as well as students.

Of course, what all this really means is that millions of Aussie students will have more beer money. Sweet!