Join a book club, meet the author, sell a textbook or buy a used one – app by student a game-changer

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Nkcubeko Noyila wanted to solve a problem most university students are familiar with.
Nkcubeko Noyila wanted to solve a problem most university students are familiar with.

Before the Covid-19 lockdown, it was a familiar sight at the beginning of the year. 

Dozens of students standing outside classes and university book shops in hopes of selling their second hand books. This was so they could afford to buy books for the new year. 

But it sometimes wasn't easy for new students to approach the seniors during the busy time. And some seniors were just too shy for the buy and sell business.

This is where Nkcubeko Noyila's new app comes in. She's experienced the frustration first hand. 

When she enrolled for her first year at the University of Free State, like any other students she had to face the harsh reality of buying books for her bachelor of social sciences qualification, which were pricy.

And the only option was to buy second-hand books from senior students which was also a daunting task.

The Eastern Cape-born woman saw an opportunity.

The 25-year-old, who majored in psychology, says through extensive research she decided to make things a little easier for book worms and academics.

That's when the idea of an app popped into her mind.

“The conceptualization of the app and research were done when I was still in university but through the funding from the MTN Foundation, I started to develop it in 2020,” she tells Drum.

Rebooked is an app that connects sellers and buyers of second-hand books. Nkcubeko says she saw through her own struggles with textbooks that an app could bridge the gap.

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“When I started [at Free State] university in 2018 after dropping out from Monash University, my parents basically did not have money to pay for all the textbooks I needed, which are purchased twice a year. So I struggled a lot when it came to having access to textbooks.”

That meant having to go to the library to rent out or book a book.

"And sometimes you can’t even get the book because someone else is using it especially when it is the examination period and that made me incapable of accessing all the necessary tools to ensure that I do pass my modules,” she explains.

Nkcubeko, who comes from a family with an entrepreneurial background in Molteno, Eastern Cape, tells us that her dad has always made sure that he nurtured her mind so she was always watching for ways to bridge gaps in the form of business, and these skills were sharpened at university.

“After joining an organization that teaches us how to conceptualize ideas out of problems that you have identified, I then saw that as an idea that I can grow into. I basically saw the gap in the market and thought ‘hey people are selling second-hand textbooks and the books at the bookstore are quite expensive and everyone wants to purchase a second-hand textbook’

Nkcubeko Noyila
Rebooked's icon

“So I thought if I can have a platform giving people access to books that would be quite helpful to students who can’t afford [new books]. Or for students who don’t know the entire campus because some university campuses are very huge and (they) wouldn’t know who’s selling what at one time. It was just a matter of time of me seeing the gap and creating an idea out of it.”

She says she started a business after dropping out from Monash South Africa when her dad lost his job. 

"Even when I went back to university, I used funds that I made from the business. Entrepreneurship was something that I was taught by my father.

“I learnt a lot from my dad in terms of supplying and construction, so when I went to university I then ventured into other things like creating the actual product instead of saying I am giving out services. I am not a contractor but I actually created a product, Rebooked.”

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She tells us the story behind its name. “The app was conceptualised on selling a second-hand book, so it’s a book that someone had and now they are revamping it by giving it to someone else so the ‘re’ of it means to come alive again and the book is for a new owner.”

Nkcubeko admits to not being a bookworm but loves reading to gain knowledge. “I do not read all the time,” she starts laughing and shares how Rebooked works.

“We have two types of users on the app, the seller – someone who wants to sell the books that they have and the buyer – someone who is looking for the book. You have to log onto the app after the download then create an account, and if you are a seller, you will then upload all the books you want to sell.”

“Then state your price and we then add a certain percentage from 10 to 20 then your book is out for buyer to have access for the book.”

There are some cool features.

"People can join a book club, where every quarter, we will have a specific book and we will have the authors right there to basically engage with the subscribers of the book club.”

She says Rebooked is accessible to everyone who loves reading or in need of a textbook. “The app is for both academic and non-academic purposes because if it was for only academics it was going to be limited so it is for everyone.”

Rebooked will be officially launched on the 15 October. “What is holding us back now is the Apple Store but we are ready on Play Store, so as soon as that is complete it will be available on both iOS and android devices.”

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