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.