Textbuk.in: A Textbook Rental Service in the Age of iBooks and iPads
Textbuk.in is a textbook rental service based out of Pune, India. Textbuk.in’s concept is simple: you rent a book by paying 75% of the Max Retail Price (MRP). 35% is retained as a deposit. The rest of the money is returned when the book is returned. Of course there are caveats.
The book has to be in good condition and if damaged, an amount will be deducted. If the student returns a book in mint condition he or she will be saving 60% off the MRP price.
The startup is currently serving engineering and diploma students at Pune University and has 900 users renting out 3,000 books. The company also plants a tree for every new student it signs up. Nice. For a change, social responsibility is not an after thought.
Are textbooks expensive in India?
Contrary to what happens in the US, textbooks in India aren’t that expensive. But, people are still willing to rent the books as they don’t see the value in buying the books for life and holding on to them.
It’s good that India’s slowly moving towards a renting economy.
Similar models exist
Education is big in India. The model no doubt will be a hit if properly executed (such a cliche but couldn’t help). In fact this model has existed for years now. I remember this being used by several of my classmates back in 1997-98. The offline book seller will offer 60-70% on the MRP when you return the book after you are done with it. Many students are exercising this option. This model is largely unorganized. Awareness has been a problem.
Textbuk.in is trying to organize this sector by bringing in a e-commerce front-end to the system. With the right use of Social Media, Textbuk.in can find its audience. Scale will always be a problem for this online-offline startups. How Textbuk.in overcomes this is to be seen. But there is a bigger threat lurking.
The eBook threat
More than the scale, model and the offline stores threat, it’s the threat of eBooks which Textbuk.in should fear the most. Apple has already made its move to revolutionize the textbook industry with its $14.99 books on iPad. Though a distant dream, India’s Aakash tablet, aims to bring a lot of content on to the digital device.
Digital content is still a little far and it will take its time to reach the digital platforms. But it’s in sight which puts Textbuk.in’s model in big question : Would Textbuk.in survive the impending digital revolution in education?