About this idea

Current problem for university students:

Students require a lot of books for their course modules. These books are generally very expensive due to the lack of knowledge students have regarding alternative book sellers. The problem, therefore, is that students are without any single place where they can locate the books they need and compare their prices when wishing to make a purchase.


What service the proposed app would provide to enhance the student journey:

The proposed app, ‘BookMart’, essentially uses open data to help university students locate the books they require in the most cost effective way.

With university students being much more conscious about the financial cost of Higher Education as a result of the increase in tuition fees, any opportunity to save money is well received.

BookMart provides just that, an opportunity to locate books and access them via a free source such as the university library and Google Scholar, or compare their prices if students wish to make a purchase.

The service provided, therefore, would enhance the student journey by allowing students to have an increased amount of freedom and choice when accessing required course materials.

Fundamentally, BookMart seeks to inspire other universities and organisations to make their data open by emphasising and promoting the benefits of the availability of this information.


A scenario in which the app meets a specific student need or solves an information problem:

The app meets a specific student need and solves an information problem.

BookMart enables students to locate the books they require in order to effectively study their course modules, as well as providing information about a book’s library stock, availability on Google Scholar, and purchase prices from various bookstores and online market places.

The app, therefore, provides an information hub of course books and the possible avenues that students may choose to take in order to gain access to the material.

It is clear then, that students will be much better informed about the options available to them, allowing them to save money and navigate this key point of the student journey much more efficiently.


How the product would make use of at least one open data source and at least one data set that would be provided by a university:


Open data source - University library:

A university would provide the data regarding the books that are stocked in their library and that are readily available to the associated students.


Open data source - Google Scholar:

Google Scholar would be an open data source that BookMart makes use of – providing students with information about their desired books and whether they are entirely or partly available for free via Google Scholar.

Whilst Google Scholar does not provide direct APIs, we envisage that ‘web scraping’ will enable us to retrieve the relevant information.

The app will also be built in such a way that it allows additional data sources to be added without much difficulty – beginning with Google Scholar.


Open data sets - Local Bookstores & Online market places:

We would want to inspire local bookstores to provide their book information and pricing in the form of an open data set.

These data sets may not be available immediately, however, so ‘web scraping’ may need to be utilised in order to obtain pricing information of books sold by these local bookstores. This would also be performed for online market places such as Amazon, for example.

Combining these data sets from various universities, organisations and online sources will enable us to construct a vast database of books that can be navigated effortlessly by students due to the simplistic and user friendly format used.