Thursday, October 15, 2009

BetterWorld Books: Wendy's New Fav

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My friend Wendy just sent me a letter she received - from a book, purchased through BetterWorldBooks.

(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.

BetterWorldBooks is a social enterprise - a new type of hybrid mission-driven for-profit business which shows much promise providing solutions to vexing problems. They make money selling books, and donate an [undisclosed] portion to their literacy partners around the world- some in cash to run the programs, and by donating used book to their literacy partners. The also have an environmental mission, to get unused book back into circulation, and to save books from landfills. They run book drives on campuses and accept donations from libraries. They will send you free shipping labels for book donations, even.

One mystifying aspect - maybe someone from BetterWorldBooks can explain their buyback deal?They say they will pay cash for your books. I input about a dozen books and they all came up as "donation" - meaning, I presume, that they would accept them, but not buy them. These were all relatively new books - quite a few from a class my college student child was trying to resell. So if they don't offer $$ for current books in print, I'm not clear on what they WOULD pay for.

Great concept, though. Surely a good way to purchase books, and support a lot of good initiatives. Wendy is quite sold, for sure!


bwbjohn said...

Hello and thanks very much for the post. I’d like to address your buyback question. We do indeed buyback some titles through our website ( Most of what we buy back are textbooks, though we can’t sell all textbooks with enough margin to justify buying them – this may be why some of your textbooks were marked acceptable for donation, but not offered a price. I would encourage people to give it a try and find out what we’ll offer.

Also, if you elect to donate books, part of the proceeds will go to the non-profit literacy partner of your choice. And if you have 3 or more books accepted as donations, we’ll provide you a pre-paid shipping label to send them in. I hope this helps, but feel free to contact me direct at john [at] Betterworldbooks [dot] com if I can clarify further for you.

BWB Marketing

Betsy Teutsch said...

Thanks for explaining. That explanation should be on the website - it would clarify what "donation" means when it pops up after you input your books. Also it should be there as full disclosure and guidance as to what types of books you are looking for. I admit I felt somewhat rejected, in addition to mystified. But I will definitely keep you in mind for donating books.

Miranda said...

Do you have any more info (links, blog posts) on this hybrid idea of mission-driven-for-profit? I am wondering about the legal and tax aspects of what sounds like a great idea.


Betsy Teutsch said...

basically they give a percentage of their business profits to a good cause, and additionally they attempt to provide a valuable service/product as well.