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DormBooks sees increase in business

Sarah Mervosh | Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More and more students fed up with high textbook prices at the bookstore took their business elsewhere last semester. 

DormBooks, the student-run company that sells and buys textbooks, had three times more business in fall 2009 than in the past, sophomore Kelsey Falter, who works as manager of operations, said.
Falter said DormBooks’ message to students is “plain and simple. We offer better prices for used textbooks and lower prices to buy textbooks.”
Students seemed to hear that message last semester more than ever.
“The bookstore is a rip-off,” sophomore Frankie Gari, who sold his books to DormBooks for the first time last semester, said. “All the prices I got back (at DormBooks) I was happy with. It was cash in my pocket.”
Gari said he decided to use DormBooks because he learned more about it and because it was the easiest option.
“The awareness of it is being promoted a lot more [and] the guy was a floor above me so I was just like hey, can I sell you these books?” Gari said. “It was really easy.”
Sophomore Mia Stenger also said DormBooks seemed to grow in popularity last semester.
“I definitely feel like more of my friends are using it,” she said. “The first place I tried was DormBooks.”
Stenger said also she had a positive experience selling her books back to DormBooks.
“It was so smooth. My roommate was friends with one of [their representatives] and he came to our room. We didn’t have to do anything,” she said. “It’s really nice.”
Stenger said she wasn’t able to find the books she needed for the spring semester from DormBooks because she looked too late.
“Be smart and look up what books you need before you get here,” she said. “Last semester, I got lower prices on all of them, but I did it a couple of days before I got here so I got all my books.”
Falter attributed DormBooks’ growth and success to its dedication to continue improving since it began at Notre Dame in 2006.
“DormBooks tries to listen to student suggestions and grow. It’s an entrepreneurial startup, and we’re always adapting,” she said. 
“In the past, I think that customer service probably fell by the wayside because DormBooks was still in a startup phase, but we’ve heard recommendations and operations have improved,” she said.
Falter said it also helps that the company is student run.
“There are literally no ‘grown ups’ or business people who run DormBooks,” she said.
“It’s the people in your classes who work at DormBooks, pack book orders and deliver books. We care because we’re all students too.”
The company has also expanded in terms of employees. DormBooks began with two employees in 2006 and grew to over 50 employees in fall 2009.
“We’ve really stepped up and hope that this spring Notre Dame students notice that DormBooks was created for the purpose of helping the student,” Falter said. 
Students looking to save money can also find their books online.
Student body vice president Cynthia Weber said student government put ISBN numbers on its Web site to make price comparison easier.
“The availability of ISBN numbers is important to making the price comparison easy,” Weber said. “By copying and pasting the number into Google, you are basically headed in the right direction.”
Students can find ISBN numbers at studentgovernment.nd.edu