By Kayla Vestergaard
You may have bought a used book on Amazon without realizing you’re buying it from a company that has found an eco-friendly way to donate tens of millions of books and dollars to literacy programs worldwide. Like most customers, you probably added the book to your cart based on its low price and the seller’s high Amazon approval rating, which sits at nearly 100%. With nearly unbeatable social impact and prices, Better World Books is one of the world’s most successful social enterprises. You can find them on Amazon, of course, or go straight to their website here for free worldwide shipping.
Better World Books’ generous business model is made possible by donations from libraries, individuals, bookstores, and book drives. Without them, the certified B-corp would be unable to maintain its triple bottom line – the financial, social, and environmental sustainability that are key to a valued social enterprise. The hundreds of millions of books donated to BWB’s Indiana warehouse since its founding in 2002 have helped fund a core BOGO book program, global literacy programs, and library projects, as well as allowed BWB to offset its carbon usage.
BWB has a buy-one-give-one program, Book for Book™, worked into its business model. Starting a few years ago, for every book bought, at least one book gets donated to someone in need.
While BWB’s three primary literacy partners are Books for Africa, Room to Read, and the National Center for Families Learning, they are also partnered with 80 smaller literacy programs, including the Prison Book Program with which SEI students have previously volunteered.
BWB’s core model involves reusing books, and therefore saving millions from being tossed into landfills. Additionally, 3Degrees, another highly regarded B-corp, tracks BWB’s carbon usage and helps them offset it through renewable energy projects (particularly wind). So far, BWB has offset 56,000 tons of carbon produced by their shipping.