LU grad beats poverty, founds Book-X-Change

Mili Mena | Reporter
From Print [September 15, 2015] | Legacy

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Rick Duree is the founder and owner of Book-X-change.
Photo by Mili Mena

Rick Duree, the founder of the Book-X-Change, developed his drive for success from humble beginnings. He grew up in Warrenton, Missouri, about 35 miles west of St. Charles.

“It had more churches than people,” he said, and his family of nine lived in a 1,000-square-foot home.

“I remember how cursed [and] blessed we were for having a single bathroom,” he said.“The economists classified us as ‘working poor’. I agreed with them, but I decided that I didn’t want to be poor anymore, and I promised that if I was able to make money, I was going to give it away.”

Duree’s father had three jobs. His mother worked part time at the local Walmart. He and his siblings worked too, small jobs during the summer and a fast-food restaurant after school.

The experience taught him the value of a dollar and that he should invest it, rather than spend it on something that would be gone in a few hours.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Those jobs were simply a means to an end,” Duree said. “I had bigger dreams pulling on me, and I knew that entrepreneurship was one of the ways to realize them.”[/pullquote]

As an undergraduate at Lindenwood University 10 years ago, Duree got his first big idea during his junior year. He saw a need for a second option besides new books, so he founded Book-X-Change, a rental and used textbook outlet.

It started as a class project and a year and a half later, it became real.

He got $3,000 from his grandparents, and a $40,000 bank loan.

“It’s not a lot of money but you do what you have to do with what you’ve got,” he said.

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The Book X-change is located across the street from Lindenwood University.
Photo by Mili Mena

He started selling and buying used books and has since expanded to four locations across three states, customizing textbook solutions to fit students’ needs.

In 2005, Duree graduated cum laude and with honors from Lindenwood with a degree in finance and international business. Afterward, Duree joined Lindenwood’s Business Advisory Board and founded the Duree Center for Entrepreneurship with the mission to “create, nurture and advance entrepreneurial endeavors through long-term mentorship, partnership and innovation” across the greater St. Louis area.

He started teaching the capstone entrepreneurship course in Lindenwood’s MBA program for five years, and soon after wrote the book, “The Entrepreneur’s Bible: 52 Proverbs of Profit.”

Duree’s philosophy is to lead an entrepreneurial life and strive to be creative, solve problems and look for solutions. In addition to running a business, Duree is committed to his roles as a father to his four children, Ava, Mason, Jaren and Ethan, as well as in his church and community.

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