Book-Buying for a Cause: Funding Literacy with BetterWorldBooks

"I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to 'I hate to read new books,' and I hollered 'Comrade!' to whoever owned it before me." - Helene Hanff, 84, Charing Cross Road

Let's talk about BetterWorldBooks! This incredibly wonderful organization does a lot of good in so many different ways; the folks behind it are rock stars of environmental consciousness and social empowerment. On the surface BetterWorldBooks is an online bookstore where customers can shop new and used books at great prices, with free shipping worldwide. For a book lover that's all fabulous in itself, but everything at BWB has a little something better attached to it. First, the books you're shopping through have been acquired from libraries, colleges, and used bookstores. These previously loved books would otherwise end up in landfills, but BWB utilizes their position as a business to get these books back into the hands of readers who will love them through a second life. Second, every purchase you make through BWB helps to fund literacy. For every book bought, BWB donates a book (see Book for Book) through one of their literacy partners, such as Books for Africa and Room to Read. Additionally, every purchase raises direct funds for libraries and literacy programs around the world. Check out the ticker at the top of their site for the stats on how many books they've saved from landfills (over 100 million), how many books have been donated into literacy programs (nearly 12 million), and how much money has been raised for libraries and literacy nonprofits (nearly 16 million dollars!). Thirdly, remember that free shipping? BWB offers an eco-conscious carbon balanced shipping option (just a few cents more at checkout). That's a whole lot of good, isn't it?

You can read much more and watch videos about how BetterWorldBoooks works on their About Us page, as well as the details of their Impact and the cycle of a book through BWB. What I really want to do here is share my experience of purchasing through BetterWorldBooks, which I did for the first time recently.

I ended up with all of the above - six hardcover books plus tax and eco-conscious shipping - for $25.72. Rowling, Haddam, McLain, and Higgins Clark were all Bargain Bin finds and, through a promotion, they were $12 altogether. All (or most) were former library books. I've written about my love of shopping library sales in the past, and shopping BWB was like an online version of the pastime - with so much extra goodness to go along with it. A huge bonus to shopping BWB's website is the feature to refine your search by quality. Depending on your standards, you can browse books in any of the used categories (Like New, Very Good, Good, and Acceptable). All of my purchases were in the Very Good range, and they all fit my idea of used but well-taken-care-of books. I took some snapshots to show the details...

Eli Brown's Cinnamon and Gunpowder could've been listed as Like New as far as I'm concerned - if you want to get finite you can see that the front cover is a little creased at the binding, but it looks and feels pretty fresh off the shelf to me. And although it wasn't found in the Bargain Bin it was still on sale for $6.98! For a hardcover 2013 release? You really can't beat that.

Knowing how many people were on the waiting list for it at my local library (it was in the hundreds at the time of publication), I knew The Casual Vacancy would be one very thoroughly read copy. I was right! But for having been passed around to goodness knows how many people, it's still in pretty great condition. The glue of the binding is weakened in one spot, but the pages are still very secure so it doesn't look like it will hinder reading. (Pre-loved is pre-loved, you know.)

After removing the library plastic covering - and with a bit of adhesive-remover to clean up sticker residue - my new acquisitions are looking pretty snazzy for being on their second go-round. All in all, I was very happy with the experience; shipping took just about a week, which was wonderful. I'll certainly shop BWB again, and I'd recommend it to bibliophiles in a heartbeat. Above all, it's wonderful to have the opportunity to contribute to so much positive impact just by doing what I so love to do - buying books!

Connect and shop with BetterWorldBooks... Shop BWB | Discover their story | Read their blog | Like and Follow on Facebook and Twitter. Enjoy!