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Chat with Pastest: An Interview with Cesca Douglas, Junior Doctor and the Founder of UnidBooks
  • 30 Jan 2024
  • Medical School
Cesca Douglas, is a Junior Doctor currently working in West Yorkshire following her graduation from the University of Leeds 3 years ago. Around one year ago, Cesca launched UnidBooks primarily at her University and hasn't looked back since. In the short time UniDBooks has been operating, Cesca has expanded to all undergraduate courses and now operates in multiple universities around the country, picking up several awards such as a student side hustle award and winning the University of Leeds Side Hustle Fund in 2022 amongst many others!
Cesca Douglas, Founder of UnidBooks
Cesca Douglas, Founder of UnidBooks

Now let's get into the questions!

So, what is UnidBooks and what gave you the idea of starting this business?

UnidBooks is a textbook marketplace to buy and sell textbooks sustainably. The whole idea came from when I was in university in my third year, my housemate was an international student and the day before her flight, she threw away around 30 textbooks into the recycling bin. I was quick to recover those textbooks and initially made the website to sell them on there.

I then had the thought, this can’t just be happening in my household, this must be a nationwide problem for many students. The premise of the business comes from the idea textbooks are meant to be affordable and accessible to everyone, despite financial barriers. Alongside the idea of increasing the sustainability of textbooks and contributing to the circular economy allowing the textbooks to come back around to a new cohort of students, leaving no waste.

How long has UnidBooks been saving the environment and students money?

1 year. Students have sold over £7,000 of books on the marketplace and have managed to prevent over 1.5 tonnes of paper from being wasted. Another benefit of UnidBooks is we have connected hundreds of students. So, everyone who sells a book has the opportunity to meet a new colleague or friend based in their city and on their course that they can keep in touch with, allowing us to build our own community of like-minded students who care about sustainability and education!

The “Meeting up” aspect of UnidBooks is amazing, why do you feel meeting in person is so beneficial to your userbase?

Following COVID, there are limitations on students connecting and meeting up, a lot of lectures are online and there’s a whole culture shift since COVID, so it’s a great way of meeting others on your course who otherwise you may have never met.

It’s amazing to see the success of the business, after starting at the University of Leeds and expanding to Birmingham, what are your plans for further expansion in 2024?

So, at the moment the plan is to make the website accessible to everyone in the UK, books will no longer be categorised by location. The books will become available for everyone to buy and now include a postage model as well. Giving students the opportunity to collect books in person or post the books if it is inaccessible for the buyer and seller based on their location.

How do you ensure the reliability of your buyers and sellers?

The money of the buyer is not given directly to the seller. It’s held in a space until the buyer and seller have met up, giving incentive to the seller to meet within 5 days to exchange the book. Normally, the seller just wants to get rid of their book. Particularly in medical school buyers and sellers often meet on placement or in a common place, so we’ve never really had issues with reliability. If there are any problems the buyer will get in touch with us directly. 

What are your aspirations for UnidBooks beyond 2024?

At the moment we’ve expanded to all undergraduate subjects, but I hope we can expand into postgraduate subjects as well such as post-grad medicine and law. The books are really expensive and are often required for career progression and that’s one area we’re keen to get involved with.

We’re also looking to expand into in-person events, so we’re hoping to do more book collections and provide “quick fixes” for international students who need to get a flight, a student who may be going on holiday or students graduating who can’t wait until September to sell their books. We want to make it possible for these students to dump their old books on campus and we can collect them and look to sell them at a later date, allowing students to support the circular economy even if they don’t have time to sell the books.

We can see from your socials and website you have already recruited some student ambassadors as advocates for your service, how can other students get involved?

We’re always on the lookout for more ambassadors, they’re really helpful with accessing WhatsApp groups, and mailing lists and spreading the word about UnidBooks.

People can get involved as student ambassadors by heading to our website and filling in a Google form. We currently have student ambassadors in Leeds and Birmingham, but it would be great to have more in different cities around the country.

We’re thrilled to be working with you to help students save money whilst contributing to the circular economy, but what made you want to work with Pastest? 

It was definitely the similar values of Pastest and UnidBooks such as making education accessible for everyone in an affordable manner, allowing students to achieve their full potential without financial barriers.

Have you ever had a Pastest subscription?

Yes! I used Pastest in my third year of University for my clinical exams, it was useful to be able to re-visit questions you have gotten wrong before. I’ve also used the Pastest textbooks which aren’t being printed anymore, but I’ll be sure to sell them on UnidBooks.

Some of the feedback you have received has been amazing, how does it feel to be supporting students with a service that makes textbooks accessible to all students?

I met someone who told me their reading list came to £240, and they managed to buy all their books for under £40! It’s also great they know after using their textbooks, they have the opportunity to sell their textbooks on the marketplace, lowering the costs of the books even further. So it’s amazing to know I can help out anyone who may need support, and that’s why people keep coming back and using the service when they no longer need the textbooks they purchased from us.

If you're interested in using Cesca's amazing service, visit Unidbooks here, and to stay up to date on our exciting partnership... follow the UnidBooks and Pastest socials!









  • 30 Jan 2024
  • Medical School