Freshman develops online alternative to U-Store
As most incoming freshmen were frantically packing for school a few weeks ago, Lang Wang '11 was spending up to six hours a day inputting the ISBN numbers of Princeton textbooks into his computer.
After experiencing sticker shock when shopping for textbooks on the U-Store website, Wang used the two weeks prior to moving in to create princetonstore.com, an alternative to the U-Store, TigerTrade, and other Princeton textbook vendors. Students can use the website, which launched on Sept. 13, to find textbooks for many courses, some at significant discounts, and have them shipped directly from amazon.com warehouses or individual private vendors.
Wang used basic HTML to create a website that offers items found in the U-Store, including Princeton wear and dorm necessities. He earns 6 percent of each sale through the Amazon Associates program. Wang said he pays $25 per year to a website hosting company, but after only a week in operation he had 32 sales, for a net profit of $100.
"Just because you're a freshman doesn't mean you can't have any new or good ideas," Wang said. "You don't have to be an upperclassman to do this."
While carrying a crateful of books at the U-Store, Alison Wood '08 said she "would definitely be interested in doing comparative shopping with princetonstore.com. [The U-Store has] somewhat of a monopoly."
After checking out princetonstore.com, Megan Munguia '09 said she would have saved about $30 on the books for one class had she used Wang's website.
"[It's] so convenient," Munguia said. "It has all the books listed so you don't have to search. I will definitely use this in the future."
"The U-Store is probably not happy," she speculated.
The U-Store offers a price-matching service for textbooks, though it is restricted to store members. U-Store Human Resources and Community Relations Director Toni Klein declined to comment for this article.
Wang said boredom was one of the reasons behind his creation of the site, but he stressed that he had the interests of the University community in mind. One benefit of the new store is that while U-Store doesn't sell texts online after Oct. 1, Wang's site is open for business all year round.
"If you trust Amazon, then you can trust princetonstore.com. I bought all of my books on the site," Wang said.
In the future, Wang said, he hopes to provide cheaper, expedited delivery of texts to dorm rooms.
"In this age, online shopping is getting increasingly popular. This is like a step towards the future," Wang said.
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