Books app

Been rethinking an idea for a while now. In college, I worked on a project that was to help students sell their used text books. At our college all we had were bulliton boards around the campus. Amazon and Kijiji are nice options, but I think something targeted towards campuses and text books specifically might have something to it.

I started rebuilding the app to be much simpler than the craziness I had back from college. I started around when Rails 4 beta 1 came about and dabbled with it here and there, more or less to try out the new features.

Tonight I felt like taking a break from my latest game (which I'll make a post about) and hack on the app a bit more. I already had some features done:

  • some basic user authentication
  • styling ontop of twitter bootstrap
  • basic searching for books
  • loading data from Amazon's API
  • posting books for sale

This evening I added some other essentials such as editing your items for sale, and marking them as sold.

Earlier today, I started writing out what I'd like for mobile integration. No doubt responsive design is a great way to go, but I think I can take huge advantage of native features. Instead of someone going to the website to complete the transaction, they can say to the buyer they're interested. The seller would receive a push notification that someone is interested. Both parties can decide where they want to meet on campus. When the money is exchanged, the seller can hit a button on their phone to mark it as sold.

Ecommerce is another thing to consider with the mobile app. Having the ability to pay the other user through the app, but that will take some more research to figure out the best solution.

My main concern with this app is that it's kinda big, and therefore it's a bit scary. Most of the stuff on the web side is not so bad, definitely worth testing so the user experience is solid. However, building an API would require work, as well as the mobile apps itself. I pretty much have zero experience in developing native apps, and I don't think I can justify paying someone else to do it right now either.

It's hard to say how I feel about this app. I enjoy rails programming, it's great practice to write tests, and to try to build something like this. At the same time though, I do like making things like games. Really it comes down to figuring out what I want out of this, and what I feel is worth my time. I have to admit, I'm not even sure how I would market this, aside from perhaps getting some tech sites to review the mobile apps.

As far as competition goes, I have not done extensive research by any means. Some brief google searching led me to sites which handle the full transaction and shipping. Definitely nice for people finding books across the world from one another. Me though, I'm more focused on the local transaction much like with Kijiji for students that may not want to pay extra for shipping.