UCT student’s app helps in buying/selling secondhand textbooks

An open book
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An app, developed by a University of Cape Town student, helps others buy and sell secondhand books. The app, called Quillo, already has over 10 000 subscribers and nearly 3 000 books in stock.
The app services are free.

When he was a first year computer engineering student, Tamir Shklaz had to buy a physics textbook that cost over R1 000, an impossible feat for a student on a tight budget.

He scoured notice boards and online platforms for a secondhand book and when he finally located one, it had already been sold. Frustrated, he started working on an idea. With the help of a few fellow students, Quillo was born.

Schklaz says that people could save a lot on secondhand book purchases through the app.

“The new textbook costs R3 300 and he got it for R150. People sometimes just want to get rid of their books. Obviously, not all of our books would have that much savings but on average around R700 to R 1 000 per textbook.”

The concept is simple; you either want to sell or buy a secondhand book. If you are selling, you upload the full title, four pictures, a description of the condition and the price. Quillo holds payment of the book until the buyer is satisfied. The books can be collected or couriered anywhere in the country.

“Students cannot afford textbooks, in fact with the recent push of Fees must Fall, it’s become very evident that education is far too expensive for people and textbooks is one facet. So I would love to grow this across South Africa to ensure that no student in South Africa should ever worry about acquiring or affording a textbook again and that’s actually why we’re starting to do something additional to the service we’re already offering. We’re starting to partner with corporates and bursaries where they would buy discount points on the platform and distribute them to students, so students can afford the textbooks,” Shklaz said.

The app is still evolving, but nearly a year on; it has become a fully-fledged business. Shklaz has big dreams for the possibilities it holds.

“Quillo exists to democratise information and resources at universities in order to make it more meaningful so I would love to take that core vision and drive it across Africa and across the world.”

The app is used by students at a number of institutions across the country.