The Revolution of Used Books in the MENA Region

December 20, 2021

Alefredo Books is an online platform dedicated to selling all types of second-hand books that has revolutionized education through the use of new technologies with the goal of supporting individuals and families in the MENA region. Practical, affordable and educational; Alefredo Books has tapped into a market previously unexplored in the region by being the first to introduce the resale of second-hand books through a digitized platform in the MENA region.

Alefredo books was one of several startups that were supported through the Heart of Amman programme. The Programme is generously funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) iin partnership with the Greater Amman Municipality.

Alefredo Books is an online marketplace for all types of used academic books and supportive educational material in addition to mock exams, available in digital format. The platform serves school children and university students.  

Today, Alfredo Books not only offers books, but also an interactive assessment tool that highlights students’ weaknesses and recommends supporting material to address them. In addition to that, the platform offers families and individuals the opportunity to generate extra income through enabling the access, purchase or resell of books online.

It started 3 years ago when Fareed was pursuing his master’s degree and needed to buy academic books for his classes. He had conducted extensive research and familiarized himself with the options that were available to him— new, used, digital, loose-leaf, rental— and he came to realize how the resale of used books competed with campus bookstores for sales.

Throughout the process of attempting to acquire used books, he came to the realization that the only medium available to him to access used books was through small informal social media groups. It suddenly dawned on him that there was a major gap in the market, and he decided to seize this untapped opportunity by addressing this need through the establishment of a reliable and formalized commercial platform for used books in Jordan. Thus, Alefredo Books was born.

Alefredo Books seeks to streamline the academic experience and reshape the learning journey of any learner by making it more efficient and customized.

The dissemination of knowledge is a major business opportunity, however, fostering a culture of appreciation for used books has its own challenges. The main challenge was having the community appreciate the value of second-hand books and adapt to the concerted effort put to promote their usage by learners everywhere. Alefredo Books constantly strives to raise awareness on the long-term implications of recycling and reusing books and how it also helps in alleviating the rising costs of education.

What makes Alefredo Books stand out as a platform is how user-centric it is. “Whenever any buyer was worried about a book's condition before purchasing it, Alefredo Books sends a video of the book and provides a grace period of 10 days for a refund”, added Fareed. 

Just like any other startup, they faced numerous challenges in turning their idea and passion into a tangible product. However, thanks to the generous support of the Government of Japan and UNDP, they were provided with the financial support and knowledge that empowered them to tackle and overcome these challenges. In fact, UNDP was the first organization to believe in Alefredo Books as an idea. The Heart of Amman programme has positively and sustainably impacted Alefredo Books and helped them turn their initial idea into a fully functional online platform focused on the resale of second-hand books. The programme’s intensive focus on training and mentorship was an instrumental learning opportunity with which they would not be where they are today, both technically and professionally.

​​The Heart of Amman programme also provided them with the necessary tools and know-how to impact their local community significantly. In only 6 months they have managed to provide additional income for 2500 families, rescue 30,000 used books at an estimated cost of 2 million JD, save the environment from 25 million tons of paper waste, and 322 tons of Co2 emissions which is equivalent to more than a thousand trees.

Considering Jordan’s difficult economic situation, Jordanians had many challenges that they needed to overcome, which in itself constitutes many opportunities. Such opportunities enable entrepreneurs to test-market their products and services in the ecosystem. The Jordanian market’s audience diversity is what pushes the learning journey of entrepreneurs. However, social entrepreneurs should be ready and prepared to seize these opportunities as one must be ready before an opportunity arises.

“Today, Alefredo Books has generated families around 50,000 JD of income through the purchase of their used books, reused 2 million books, saved 3000 trees, saved parents around 220,000 JD instead of buying new books, and donated 5000 books to marginalized areas in the Kingdom ', Ahmad emphasizes.

“Communication skills are crucial. This applies to communicating effectively with our team, suppliers, stakeholders, and anyone else involved in our daily lives”, stresses Fareed.

I believe in the importance of being more attentive when communicating and asking for advice. The way we deal with our team reflects on the way other interactions will take place internally or externally.

"At Alefredo Books, we received feedback that elderly people are not able to use our online platform. We listened and decided to give them the option to order their desired books from any outlet they prefer using or find easier to order from".

Alefredo Books is a noteworthy example of a startup that is creating positive impact and promoting entrepreneurship regionally. The founder, Ahmad Al Fareed, is eager to share his knowledge and expertise with others and is reachable and very approachable through several social media platforms.

To learn mroe about Alefredo Books visit their webiste