Where I can get used books online AND save the planet? Where can I find multiple copies of a text AND support literacy efforts in Third World countries? Better World Books is the online website for the ecologically concerned and the socially conscious. According to the website, “We were founded in 2002 by three friends from the University of Notre Dame who started selling textbooks online to earn some money, and ended up forming a pioneering social enterprise — a business with a mission to promote literacy.” The short video explains how they started and what they do:
This enterprise partners with local library books sales. Enter a zip code, and a map of participating libraries pops up. Clicking on one of the libraries shows the books they have for sale. Libraries and campuses can donate books and share the proceeds from sales of those books. The site has a section devoted to the buying and selling of textbooks. Books in good condition can be donated to this site, as well. Service organizations can organize book drops in their communities. Every conceivable option to the buying and selling of used books is covered on the Better World Book web site. There is also an option to donate books at no cost; Better World Books will pay for postage.
I have been successful in securing odd copies of texts when I am short one or two copies to make a class set. I have ordered copies of the hard to find Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine for $6.98 which normally retails for $12.50 and Larry Watson’s Montana, 1948 for $6.98 which normally retails for $11.20. Recently, I ordered 20 copies of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Haddon for $3.98 each; the book retails for $8.73 – a savings of $95.00. All books arrived on time and in good condition. There are sales on this site as well; bargain books are marked 50% off the already low sale price.
Best of all? The shipping is FREE! Not so with other used book sites charge a minimum of $3.99 for each book sent. In addition, the most entertaining confirmation notice I have ever received from a company has come from Better World Books. I purchased several used copies of Night, October Sky and The House on Mango Street because I could not find enough in local book sales for class sets. Not only were the used book prices reasonable, but the July sale included an additional 15% off the entire order. A week later I received an e-mail to tell me the books were shipped. The correspondence read as follows:
(Your book(s) asked to write you a personal note – it seemed unusual, but who are we to say no?)
Holy canasta! It’s me… it’s me! I can’t believe it is actually me! You could have picked any of over 2 million books but you picked me! I’ve got to get packed! How is the weather where you live? Will I need a dust jacket? I can’t believe I’m leaving Mishawaka, Indiana already – the friendly people, the Hummer plant, the Linebacker Lounge – so many memories. I don’t have much time to say goodbye to everyone, but it’s time to see the world!
I can’t wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Jane Eyre (drama queen) and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Jane was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol’ brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?
I know the trip to meet you will be long and fraught with peril, but after the close calls I’ve had, I’m ready for anything (besides, some of my best friends are suspense novels). Just five months ago, I thought I was a goner. My owner was moving and couldn’t take me with her. I was sure I was landfill bait until I ended up in a Better World Books book drive bin. Thanks to your socially conscious book shopping, I’ve found a new home. Even better, your book buying dollars are helping kids read from Brazil to Botswana.
A company that is spreads literacy while being ecologically friendly, socially conscious, and funny? Better World Books is a great resource for those looking for good quality books on the cheap.