Buy a Book; Give a Book.

Photo courtesy of Books for Africa.

Last year, I wrote about Better World Books – an amazing, for-profit social enterprise that sells used books online, makes a profit, and supports literacy initiatives around the world.

Started by three friends from Notre Dame in 2003, Better World Books to date has raised over $10 million for libraries and literacy, donated over 5 million books, re-used or recycled over 57 million books, and earned 23,000 tons of carbon offsets through carbon-balanced shipping (whatever that means). But this epitome of a B-corporation -a business governed by economic, social and environmental bottom lines — isn’t resting on its literacy laurels.

Books for Africa photo.

On August 15, Better World Books announced its new Book For Book program — meaning that in addition to funding literacy programs on every continent, for every book purchased on or, the company will donate one book to Books for Africa and Feed the Children, two incredible organizations that BWB has supported since its inception. In fact, BWB is Books for Africa’s largest source of university-level books for shipment to Africa, and last year helped BFA to send 1.9 million books to 23 African countries. BWB also has invested $4.5 million in American libraries, including those in New Orleans.

Considering that 800 million people in the world today are illiterate (2/3 of them women), and literacy is inextricably linked to poverty, HIV/AIDS and health, Book for Book is a timely, essential initiative — and ridiculously easy to support.

All you have to do is donate your old books (folks in Indiana and Georgia, find an attractive BWB drop-box here) and buy from the vast selection of 8 million new and used tomes that Better World Books offers online. The books are a bargain, you’ll get free shipping (!!), and you’ll get to be a part of a beautiful giving flow.

After all, literacy depends on having something to read. So pass along the precious gift of a book. Buy a book. Give a book. Smile.

9 thoughts on “Buy a Book; Give a Book.

  1. Betty, thanks for reminding me about BetterBooks. I am starting a local book service – taking friends’ books which they don’t want anymore off their hands, selling the priciest on Amazon, and sending the rest to BetterBooks. I am donating all the proceeds to – but this way, even the less valuable books will be put to great use and help BB raise funds, too. Win Win Win!!

  2. Betty, I apologize for hijacking your post, and certainly you can delete it if you find it inappropriate. I heard about you from a friend of mine. She’s dubbed you Saint Buffy – with the highest amount of respect.

    If people come to you looking for places to donate money or help others there are still many, many people in Vermont who lost everything. I know of a family who lived next to a tiny stream – six inches deep and maybe three feet wide. They were told they didn’t need flood insurance. That “stream” took their entire house down the river. There is nothing left of it. Not even the smallest shingle or frying pan floating around. Another boy in our school lost everything he owned. Everything. FEMA cannot begin to replace these people’s homes and belongings. Some lives will never be the same.

    I imagine there are web sites that can be found, but if anyone wants to help a specific family, such as the boy from our school or the people who were told they didn’t need flood insurance – there are many many more by the way. I would be happy to direct anyone to the appropriate place to send money. Or things. Even a card can lift a spirit.

    Kate AT kategeorge DOT com is where I can be reached. (Format as an email address. I’m trying to avoid spam.)

  3. I just checked it out, because I’m always looking for audiobooks to listen to in the car (not that I don’t just love local radio). I was surprised to see that even international shipping is free. What a great way to put a dent in worldwide illiteracy. Thanks for telling us about this, Betty.

    • I love these guys so much — I had to write — and since it’s dead simple to support the Book for Book program, why NOT buy from Better World (instead of Amazon … and the shipping is always free — and green!) Thanks for writing, JM!

  4. What a great post, Betty! And perfect timing for me b/c an elderly friend has left me twenty boxes of books to disperse as she moves from her house into an apartment. I have sorted the books and have carted umpteen boxes to local library sales. The more recent hardcovers will be sold to a used book store. I had been wondering what to do with the proceeds but now I know! Books for Africa, it is.

    • Yeah … keeping books out of landfill is always a great idea… and if you can’t find a box, give ’em a call and i’ll bet they will find a way to get the books! But … Books for Africa is located in St. Paul — so that’s another perfect outlet! Thanks for writing Mary!

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