The start of a new year is a great time to refresh your reading list. That’s why we’re highlighting Better World Books in today’s Feel Good Friday.
Headquartered in Indiana, Better World Books (BWB) is a “for-profit social enterprise and a global e-retailer that collects and sells used books online with a matching donation for each sale.” It was founded in 2002 by Notre Dame alumni Xavier Helgesen and Christopher Fuchs. They started their business with $7,000 in seed money they won in a social venture plan competition held by the university. Watch them tell the story in this short video.
Their inspiration came from success they had selling their used textbooks online. When they found out that millions of excess books end up in landfills every year as libraries make room for new editions, the founders realized something could be done to rescue these discarded books and help the environment at the same time. BWB started partnering with librarians all across the country to rescue books from landfills and sell them to raise money for the libraries.
Now BWB has a network of over 4,000 libraries located in Canada, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. They handle all aspects of inventorying, marketing, selling and shipping the materials they collect from libraries, and each saleable item generates funds for the library. In addition, for every book sold, BWB donates a book to someone in need. Along with libraries, BWB generates revenue for over 500 bookstores, wholesalers and distributors by selling surplus materials on over 30 channels around the world.
To date, Better World Books has donated over 32 million books, reused or recycled over 392 million books and raised over $33 million for literacy and libraries! Testimonials from librarians explain how using BWB to clear out their excess inventory has not only generated revenue, but also saved time for library staff.
If you want to help rescue books from the landfill and redirect them to people in need, or to your own bookshelf, there are many ways to get involved. College students can participate in one of the textbook drives held at over 1,800 college campuses. The rest of us can use this dropbox locator to donate any of our unwanted books.
The most fun way to support Better World Books of course is by shopping! For every book you buy for yourself, you’re actually rescuing two books – the one you get and the one donated on your behalf. Now that’s a story worth spreading on social media. Like the BWB Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @BWBooks and Instagram @betterworldbooks.