Book Share System — First Interview Week

This is the second week of our blog, and this is the first week that we started to interview people. We have taken a lot of steps this week: we formed the interview questions together; we made a Google form survey of our questions; we each interviewed five people (15 in total) to verify some of our assumptions; we also finished our Value Proposition Canvas.

Before I explain what we accomplished this week, I would like to review our Original Idea of our Book Share System:

A location-based online bookshare service that allows students to donate or share their vacant (text)books with other students, whether its an ebook or hardcover.

And our Business Model Canvas:

Business Model Canvas

Based on this Original Idea and the Business Model Canvas, we developed a list of general interview questions to help us understand what we wanted to know about our students as listed below.

Interview Questions

  • How many textbooks on average a semester do you purchase?
  • How much money do you spend a semester for your textbooks?
  • Where do you purchase your textbooks?
  • Name some stores or online stores where you purchase textbooks?
  • What challenges have you experienced from sellers you purchased your textbooks from?
  • How do you feel about textbook prices?
  • Do you purchase new, used, or rent your textbooks?
  • How do you feel about buying your textbook at IIT or your university?
  • Do you think Illinois Tech (or your university) Bookstore prices their textbooks fairly?
  • What can your university bookstore do to make the prices more fair to the customer?
  • Do you use the University Library for Textbooks?
  • What strategies have you used to lower your expenses as they relate to the cost of textbooks? What were the benefits and the negatives?
  • How much time do you use your textbook for a class during the semester?
  • After the semester is over what do you do with your textbook?
  • Do you ever borrow or share books with peers? If yes, what are the benefits and negatives?
  • If you are finished with a book would you consider lending it to another student?

We also made a Google Form for these questions here. If anyone in the class is willing to complete the form, that would be very helpful.

These questions cover both book users and book owners. But we also care about how our professors get those books, and what are other sources we can get books from. So we also interviewed the department and the Book Store about the channel.

Results and Feedback

Based on our interviews, the following are some of the feedback we received from our interviewees.

  • A Computer Science student stated that she does not buy textbooks for some of her classes, instead she always asks for electronic versions from other students. Other students have also said that they try to look for free PDF versions of books online and borrow books from friends or other students.
  • Based on the information gathered so far, it seems that most students purchase their books from online bookstores; the most popular being Amazon, Chegg and Flat world. This is because usually the new and used book prices at these stores usually have a big difference in price range from university bookstores’ new and used prices.
  • However, when purchasing books online, there are times when students receive their delivery late.
  • Reasons students decide not to purchase from the bookstore: High price and short delivery return.
  • Students usually prefer renting or buying used books because it is cheaper. However, negatives of purchasing used books include: Highlighting and writing from past students, ripped pages / or missing pages.
  • When the Semester has ended, students have said that they try and sell their book if they do not need them, loan them to friends, or they end up just keeping them.
  • Sometimes students keep their textbooks depending on the class because it may be helpful for a future class or just as an extra study tool. However, novel books that are normally required for humanities courses end up going to waste, because they are not needed anymore after the class.
  • Most students would love to keep their core class books and sell their books for elective class.

Value Proposition Canvas

Next step:

  • Modify our Value Proposition Canvas.
  • Because we are going to create a low-fi prototype in class, next week we will interview more people to test our prototype and get feedback.
  • We will continue to update on a weekly basis on our Business Model Canvas, weekly power-point presentation, and blog posts.
One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.