Logo Stiftung Lesen

Supported by

Logo Goethe-Institut

Logo Deutscher Bildungsserver

Logo Lesen in Deutschland

Education Worldwide

Buying Books for a Better World


What to do with textbooks after graduation? Some people try to sell them to a local academic bookstore for little money. Most people simply throw them away. College friends Xavier, Kreece and Jeff had a better idea. They started a book drive collecting used and unwanted textbooks at a local college campus (University of Notre Dame) and sold them for funding literacy initiatives. After this first success, they initiated campus book drives across the country.

This was the beginning of the social business Better World Books. Besides book drives, the company now offers and installs drop boxes to partners such as libraries or colleges, where individuals can deposit their used books. Additionally, Better World Books sells surplus book material from wholesalers and distributors as well as discarded or donated books from libraries. Better World Books works with more than 3,100 library and 1,800 college campuses. Books are either sold to raise money for a literacy project, sent to one literacy organization or recycled if unusable. Many of the collected textbooks are sent to universities in Africa.

Individuals can buy textbooks they want or need from Better World Books website or from two stores. In addition to sharing a portion of the sales with literacy projects, for each bought book one book will be donated for a literacy cause since 2011. Currently, Better World Books partners with literacy organizations such as Books for Africa, National Center for Family Literacy, Room to Read or Worldfund.

Better World Books' aim is to use capitalism in order to fight illiteracy on a worldwide scale. Since 2002, it has won numerous awards and reused or recycled more than 97,000,000 books, raised more than 13,000,000 USD for literacy projects and libraries and donated more than 7,000,000 books.

(Image: Screenshot taken from video. Video from vimeo user Better World Books with a Creative Commons-licence CC BY-NC 3.0, 27th February 2013.)