To end students’ woes, two IBAians launch online book portal

Published: August 26, 2013
Imran Hemani

Imran Hemani

Imran Hemani Safeer Hussain

As new semesters begin to roll at universities, students are seen thronging Urdu Bazaar – one of the oldest book markets in the city offering pirated copies of textbooks at relatively competitive prices.

Students usually pay Rs3,000 to Rs5,000 for textbooks every semester, but the struggle does not end here because to find the right book, they still have to run from pillar to post as many of the required books are not available at one point or another. Other book shops usually charge hefty prices, reflecting the impact of the law of supply and demand.

Two students of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Imran Hemani and Safeer Hussain, have come to the rescue of students by introducing IBA – an online bookshop – ahead of the start of the new semester. Launched last Sunday, this well-organised student initiative has set up an example for other institutes to follow as many students have been involved in the buying and selling of books through haphazard channels ie via Facebook.

“During our technology entrepreneurship course last year, we pitched in ideas to establish a platform for students to buy and sell textbooks via a few clicks,” said Hemani while talking to The Express Tribune. “Students can place their textbooks for sale at the portal by following four easy steps, while others can buy them and start their new semester without any hassle. We take care of delivery within the campus free of charge.”

Having a computer science background, Hussain said they always wanted to present a technology-based solution to cater to the problems of the students.

The duo, with the help of their course supervisor, Erum Abbasi, devised the business plan and the website was formally launched. For the fresh entrepreneurs, the institute serves as an apt testing-ground with over 750 new students enrolled in academic programmes every year.

Hussain shared the observation that seniors at academic institutions are usually hesitant about asking money from juniors in exchange for used books. “At the IBA, they can choose to remain anonymous,” he said.

Hemani pointed out that another benefit of the portal was that students usually received around 30 to 40 per cent of a textbook’s actual market price when they went to the market for resale. The bookshop owners, however, resell the second-hand textbooks at around 60 to 80 per cent of the actual market price. “The sellers will be able to get a better price.”

IBA is currently campus-specific as they are dealing with IBA students only, but the brains behind it have big plans for expansion.

“At present, it is a completely free venture for IBA students, but we plan to expand it to other universities in the years to come by designating ambassadors to help the project grow,” said Hemani. “With this expansion, the sellers will become premium account-holders of our website by paying a very reasonable amount.”

The initiative would also serve as the first significant project for a start-up company in the web and graphics design industry – the Big O Studios – established by the duo around two years ago.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Gracias
    Aug 26, 2013 - 2:29AM

    Can anybody with legal expertise enlighten us on whether its legal to resell textbooks?


  • A Pakistani
    Aug 26, 2013 - 9:47AM

    Since we are a developing country, it would be necessary for the books to be pirated, i am sure most of them will be pirated anyhow. However, the legality of trading, let alone re-trading, pirated text books stands dubious.


  • Qasim
    Aug 26, 2013 - 9:58AM

    Keep up the good work boys.


  • Is he stupid
    Aug 26, 2013 - 10:06AM

    @ Gracias
    Yes it is….now sit quietly and let the boys do the good they are trying to do….


  • friend of ibian
    Aug 26, 2013 - 10:15AM

    excellent work by both guys.may they prosper in the future.ameen


  • Rumormonger
    Aug 26, 2013 - 10:39AM

    Reselling of books is not illegal. Piracy is illegal. I am sure the guys involved here will keep things legal. They are only trying to save people from going hunting for books in urdu bazar and other places, where students are more prone to buy pirated books.


  • Haisum
    Aug 26, 2013 - 11:30AM

    Good initiative, pathetic website design


  • Aug 26, 2013 - 11:49AM

    Excellent Idea at the right time. I knew there are some websites that are actually providing such services but only for commercial purposes. No need fulfillment agenda behind it. This is a real great initiative. I think they must start promoting it to other universities as well. And make it campus-vice.


  • Hypocrite
    Aug 26, 2013 - 12:23PM

    Yes it is legal to resell a used book. IF the books were being pirated, then it would be a copyright issue because of piracy. Once you buy a book or any other media, the copyright transfers to use and unless you pass it off illegally( like photocopying and selling those) then it becomes an issue.


  • Saud
    Aug 26, 2013 - 1:04PM

    It is perfectly legal to buy sell used books as long as they are not pirated copies.
    In U.S, University book stores buy the used books back at 50% and resell them to new students at 75% of the new book value.


  • Saad Farooqui
    Aug 26, 2013 - 1:32PM

    Good Initiative! I would suggest the boys check out which is a great books marketplace operating out of Karachi for the past few years. Other than thousands of general interest titles, I believe they have a textbooks section too. Perhaps they should get in touch and see if they can collaborate.


  • Nzaar
    Aug 26, 2013 - 1:34PM

    Almost ALL students use photocopies of textbooks (which is piracy), or locally re-printed black and white versions (which are also pirated). This happens because of the high price of the original books as well as the fact that piracy is really not discouraged in Pakistan.

    Although probably not legal, these boys have provided a forum for students to be able to download the books instead of buying pirated versions from local bookstores or photocopy shops. The description of some books is clearly saying that they are pirated.

    I would urge the boys to watch their backs from a legal perspective; if one upset international publisher decides to pursue the matter (international publishers can’t identify a local printer or a photocopy shop but an online website is more noticeable & accessible), they could end up in hot water.

    Their course supervisor may not have shown the best of judgement while sponsoring this project.


  • Realist
    Aug 26, 2013 - 1:54PM

    well done gentlemen!


  • Sana
    Aug 26, 2013 - 2:07PM

    wow! Good work you guys! Really proud of such amazing talent and entrepreneurship skills that you possess!


  • Usman
    Aug 26, 2013 - 3:49PM

    Re-selling your books is perfectly leagle, if you have purchased unpirated books in the first place. I am candidate of an extremely strict professional bodies and even their ethical standards allow reselling your books as these books are essentially your property!!


  • Correct URL
    Aug 26, 2013 - 4:13PM

    The URL has no space:


  • faraz
    Aug 26, 2013 - 6:04PM

    Like OLX


  • faraz
    Aug 26, 2013 - 6:04PM

    just like OLX


  • Atif Shoaib
    Aug 27, 2013 - 1:00AM

    I don’t understand the psyche of our nation. When we don’t have any source, we cry for it. Now when someone is trying a good productive approach, we are pulling their legs. Hillarious!! Keep up the good work fellows, we need such kind of e-trading points to be setup for convenience of the end user.


  • Mehwish
    Aug 27, 2013 - 2:24AM

    This made me so proud! This just shows that the youth still has the ability to play a huge role! May you guys prosper in the much bigger things you want to achieve.


  • Gracias
    Aug 28, 2013 - 3:24AM

    I wasn’t being critical of this good initiative, rather I just wanted to know more from a legal perspective. After some research the “first sale doctrine” allows for reselling of textbooks.

    As long as the books on sale are not pirated, this is great news for students of Pakistan.

    However, this website should ensure that the marketplace only lists un-pirated textbooks else legal notices will come flowing in.


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