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Better World Books

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Better World Books

Better World Books
Type Private
B Corporation
Industry Online bookseller
Founded 2002
Founders Christopher “Kreece” Fuchs
Xavier Helgesen
Jeff Kurtzman
Headquarters Mishawaka, Indiana;
Atlanta, Georgia;
Dunfermline, Scotland
Revenue $65 million[1]
Employees 340[1]

Better World Books is an online for-profit bookseller of used and new books founded in 2002 by Christopher “Kreece” Fuchs, Xavier Helgesen and Jeff Kurtzman.[1] It is a B Labs-certified B corporation (not to be confused with a benefit corporation), which donates books or a percentage of its profit to literacy programs around the world. [2] By 2013, the company has donated an estimated $14 million under this program.[1] The company discloses information about funds raised, books re-used or recycled, and books donated in a ticker at the top of its website.[3][4]

Better World Books’ used book inventory comes primarily from regular book drives at over 1,800 colleges and universities and donations from over 3000 library systems, in addition to donation boxes found on corners and on college campuses. [5] The company has distribution warehouses in Mishawaka, Indiana and Dunfermline, Scotland.[1][6]


  • History 1
  • Criticism 2
  • Partners 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


In 2001, shortly after their graduation from the University of Notre Dame, Better World Books founders Christopher Fuchs, Xavier Helgesen and Jeff Kurtzman sold their used college textbooks online.[7][8][9] The three then formulated a business plan using their experience selling books online.[7][8][9] In 2002, Fuchs and Helgesen held book drive benefiting the Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend, Indiana.[7][8][9] During the drive they collected and sold 2,000 books, which raised $20,000.[7][8][9] Half of the drive’s proceeds went to support literacy initiatives at the community center.[1]

In 2003, the three entered their business plan into the Notre Dame Social Venture Business Plan Competition, which was sponsored by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business.[8] They won the competition and competition’s grand prize of $7,000 and mentorship from entrepreneur and IrishAngel David Murphy.[8] Murphy served as Better World Books president and CEO from 2004-2011 before leaving to direct Notre Dame's Master of Entrepreneurship program (ESTEEM).[8][6][10]

Better World Books acquired a US Small Business Administration-backed credit line in 2004.[7] In April of 2008 Better World Books secured an additional $4.5 million in venture capital via Good Capital,LLC and 18 private investors.[11]

In 2008, the company opened an operation in Dunfermline, Scotland and started a UK website in 2010.[12][13][14][15][16]


Better World Books cites "Are you profiting off of other people’s charity and donations?" as a Frequently Asked Question and answers in the affirmative: "As a for profit social enterprise we do make money on the books we collect and sell." [17] One independent bookseller has criticized the company for lacking "fundamental bookseller literacy," as Better World's condition notes show a "lack of precision." [18]


Better World Books donates one book to Feed the Children, Books for Africa, or smaller donation recipients for each book sold on[19][20] Better World Books provides additional support to literacy non-profits including:

  • Books for Africa -- which collects, ships and distributes books to African children[1]
  • The National Center for Family Literacy -- which provides educational opportunities and literacy programs to at-risk children and families[1][21]
  • Room to Read -- which builds libraries and schools and provides scholarships in impoverished areas of the world, including Southeast Asia.[1][22] Room to Read also publishes books for children in multiple languages.[22]
  • Worldfund -- which provides resources to improve English-language skills in Latin America[1][23]
  • Prison Book Project -- a Quincy, Massachusetts-based nonprofit, which provides inmates with books and legal resources.[24][25][26]
  • Robinson Community Center -- a University of Notre Dame-affiliated community center, which provides educational opportunities and tutoring services in South Bend, Indiana[27]
  • National Literacy Trust - an independent charity based in London, England, that promotes literacy[14][15][16]
  • READ International- a charity that aims to improve access to education in East Africa by relocating books which are no longer needed in UK secondary schools to Tanzania[14][15][16]
  • The National Adult Literacy Agency - an independent charity based in the Republic of Ireland committed to making sure people with literacy and numeracy difficulties can fully take part in society and have access to learning opportunities that meet their needs[14][15][16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Anne Field (May 4, 2013). "Secrets of a Successful Social Enterprise". Forbes. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  2. ^ Kyle Westaway (December 2, 2011). "'"New Legal Structures for 'Social Entrepreneurs. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ Ashley Booker (August 29, 2013). "Students help fight illiteracy through online book vendor". The University Daily Kansan. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  4. ^ Zak Stambor (November 30, 2011). "A broader mission". Internet Retailer. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  5. ^ Kristi York Wooten (August 16, 2011). "Can Buying a Book Help Kids and the Environment?". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Gene Stowe (May 26, 2013). "A decade's worth of doing good". SouthBend Tribune. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Stephanie Elam (July 2, 2009). "Building better world a book at a time". CNN. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Elizabeth Station (Winter 2008). "Book Value". Notre Dame Business. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d Doug DeLoach (August 19, 2011). "Doing good, doing well". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  10. ^ "David Murphy Biography". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Good Capital, LLC (April 7, 2008). "Good-Capital-s-Social-Enterprise-Expansion-Fund-to-Invest-Up-to-2-5-Million-in-Better-World-Books". Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  12. ^ Responsible' book seller opens UK online shop"'". IT Pro Portal. December 9, 2010. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  13. ^ Zak Stambor (December 8, 2010). "Better World Books opens an e-commerce site in Britain". Internet Retailer. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d Ina Steiner (December 9, 2010). "Better World Books Launches Site in UK". eCommerce Bytes. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Better World Books launches UK retail website". UK Fundraising. December 8, 2010. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d Charlotte Williams (September 12, 2012). "Better World Books launches UK site". The Bookseller. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  17. ^ Better World Books. "Frequently Asked Questions"
  18. ^ Lieberman, Michael. "Better World Books: Are They Better for the Book World?"
  19. ^ David Markiewicz (August 24, 2011). "Better World Books tries to do good by doing business". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  20. ^ Ariel Schwartz. "Better World Books Takes a Page From Toms Shoes' "One For One" Playbook". Fast Company. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  21. ^ Michel Marriott (August 21, 1991). "When Parents and Children Go to School Together". New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b Nicholas D. Kristof (November 5, 2011). "His Libraries, 12,000 So Far, Change Lives". New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  23. ^ Rebecca Bailey (June 21, 2007). "Dartmouth-based partnership aims to help English teaching in Latin America". Dartmouth News. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  24. ^ Jamie Reysen (October 1, 2009). "Prison Book Program collects books for prisoners nationwide". JSONS. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  25. ^ Dara Olmsted (November 5, 2010). "The Great American Book Drive". Boston. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  26. ^ Emily Sweeney (June 10, 2012). "Helping inmates roam world of words". Boston. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  27. ^ Amanda Gray (February 18, 2011). "Robinson Center celebrates 10th anniversary". The Observer. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 

External links

  • Official website
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