News / Utah / offering free alternative to expensive textbooks offering free alternative to expensive textbooks

By Travis Poppleton, Contributor | Posted - Sep. 7, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- New college students are often faced with challenges their first few weeks of school. Getting the layout of campus is always a bit frustrating, as well as adjusting to the meager wages offered by local employers.

But according to AJ ONeal, co-founder of, perhaps the most common lament, one that causes that little vein to bulge from the new student’s forehead every time he hits a campus bookstore, is, “It is ridiculous how much bookstores charge students for textbooks.”

“When you are paying tuition and rent and all you can afford to eat is top ramen, it is outrageous that you should have to pay hundreds of dollars for books that you could get for free,” ONeal said.

Instead of just complaining about textbook injustice however, ONeal and fellow Blyph co-founder Brian Turley decided to do something about it by creating

Blyph is website where students can list the textbooks they need, along with the books they currently own, and then get results of near-by students who may be willing to make a trade. In the event that an exchange can’t be made, the website then searches the Internet for the best possible price.

“When I first came to school, I was really shocked by the high cost of books, and I thought that this idea of trading book for book with other students could be a great way to ease the problem as more permanent solutions are developed,” Turley said. “It's something I wanted, and because I didn't find something quite like it, I decided to create it.”

Turley and ONeal started piloting the project at BYU, where they had more than 200 users within the first week of going live. Like all new sites, a few bugs and some grumpy users forced the two entrepreneurs to act quickly, but today they believe the site is solid and ready for another semester of students looking to save some cash.

“As far as I can tell, we've fixed all of the critical problems,” ONeal said. “We've also been compiling the rest of the feedback, and we've got some great ideas on how to make Blyph even better for next semester.”

They are planning continued updates and expansion to additional schools.

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Travis Poppleton


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