The process of buying and selling textbooks is a challenge that Penn students face every semester, and it has yet to be conquered in a successful way. Oftentimes students spend exorbitant amounts on textbooks at the beginning of each semester, and fail to resell them after use--whether that’s because the bookstore won’t buy them back, or the students can’t find the right buyers. Between the expense, the weight, and the space they take up, having used textbooks around is truly a burden. Existing platforms that enable students to buy and sell textbooks are inconvenient and inefficient, as they require significant effort and often do not result in a transaction--let alone clear the market.
Thus, Bookworm aims to become the most convenient and efficient solution on the market for all textbook problems. Bookworm is an iOS application with an easy-to-use front-end interface. Features such as a barcode scanner and integration with the Google Books API make the process of uploading books quick and seamless. The back-end of the application employs an algorithm that corresponds to a double auction economic model. It is designed to optimally match buyers and sellers of a given textbook by finding a competitive equilibrium and clearing the market. The application was developed in Objective-C using XCode, the algorithm was coded in Python, and Firebase is employed for database storage.
By taking care of the matching process for users, Bookworm eliminates the burden of having to wait for a buyer or seller with the complementary supply or demand. The algorithm also maximizes the number of transactions possible given the price ranges requested by the users, providing users with the greatest probability of success in solving their textbook problems. With each iteration of the algorithm for a given book, in addition to falling within each user’s requested ranges, the price is consistent for every buyer-seller pair, making the process fair for anyone involved. Both the convenience factor as well as the matching algorithm give Bookworm a competitive edge over existing platforms because they improve user experience in making textbook transactions.