When the Book Business Also Happens to Change the World

By carmichaellibrary [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

(By Maria Patterson – Contributing Editor)  While its current goals are global, it was a classic case of “necessity is the mother of invention” that gave birth to Better World Books (BWB).

In 2002, Christopher “Kreece” Fuchs and Xavier Helgesen had just graduated from the University of Notre Dame and, like most new grads, needed money. As Information Systems and Mechanical Engineering majors, they looked at the textbooks lying around their dorm room and decided to try and sell them online. The pair quickly discovered they made more profit this way than by reselling the books at the campus bookstore. They partnered with Jeff Kurtzman, developed the concept further and entered and won the Notre Dame Social Venture Business Plan Competition, which fueled them with prize money and mentorship. This was soon followed by a small business loan, then eventually, venture capital and private investment to develop the Mishawake, Indiana based Better World Books. Today, BWB offers more than 8 million titles, all of which, ship free.

The simple yet powerful belief upon which Better World Books was built is that education and access to books is a basic human right. Today, the online bookseller operates through a network of over 2,300 college campuses and partnerships with over 3,000 libraries nationwide, converting more than 250 million books into over $24 million in funding for literacy and education. BWB also actively finds homes for unwanted books, donating 21 million books to date to partner programs across the globe, the three most prominent ones being: Books for Africa, Room to Read and the National Center for Families Learning. You can find real-time updates on funds and books donated through a ticker that runs at the bottom of the BWB website.

With a firm belief that literacy can break the cycle of poverty, Better World Books launched the Book for Book TM program in 2011 – for every book purchased on its website, BWB will donate a book to someone in need. Accumulated through sources such as public and academic libraries, community and college book drives and donation boxes on street corners and college campuses, Better World Books shares the power of books with those in need here at home and around the world.

What’s more, through its efforts at extending a book’s lifecycle, Better World Books is making a significant environmental contribution as well, by diverting more than 250 million books from landfills.

Want to be a part of it? Here’s how you can help:

– Purchase your books at betteworldbooks.com.
– Tell the students in your life to purchase their textbooks at BWB.
– Donate books via a Better World Books drop box or mail them to:

Attention: Donations
Better World Books
55740 Currant Road
Mishawaka, IN 46545

– Have a parking spot to spare? Host a BWB drop box.
– Affiliated with a college? Become a book drive partner.

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