Better World Books
January 16, 2008 2:50 AM   Subscribe

Better World Books - Recently recognized by Fast Company as one of the best for-profit social enterprises of 2008, they offer a wide selection of new and used books with free shipping in the US and less than $3 shipping elsewhere. A portion of the profits go to fund literacy organizations such as Room to Read and WorldFund, and their shipping is carbon-neutral. The only thing missing is the ability to import Amazon wishlists.
posted by divabat (18 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
This sounds like a very good idea.
posted by hadjiboy at 3:48 AM on January 16, 2008

I just ordered some books, and the total shipping to Latvia was less than $6...whoo! Thanks divabat, this is great!
posted by mdonley at 4:08 AM on January 16, 2008

people might also be interested in books for the future, a smaller organization that's just getting underway. check it ouT!
posted by localhuman at 4:29 AM on January 16, 2008

It's a lovely idea, but most of the books I checked they have available only as "new" and the price at Amazon is ~40% cheaper (and they offer free shipping, too, on orders over $25). And for one that BW has available "used," it's one copy for $3.95, while Amazon has "22 Used & new from $0.01," all with $3.99 shipping so it's basically a wash.
posted by twsf at 4:33 AM on January 16, 2008

Awesome. I've always tried to avoid Amazon and this looks like a great alternative. One or two of the books on my wishlist are actually cheaper on Better World, and even those that are more expensive aren't more than a few dollars difference.

Also, Amazon's "Used and New" is a pain in the ass, you can't usually consolidate shipping on larger orders.
posted by Skorgu at 5:04 AM on January 16, 2008

Free shipping in the US. Free. Shipping. Used books. Shipped for free. Portion of profits. Literacy.

How did. When.

Oh, I'm there. Oh yes.
posted by DU at 5:26 AM on January 16, 2008

(Amazon's "used and new" is not just a pain in the ass, it also doesn't have free shipping. However, Amazon Prime let's you get two day shipping for free, but none of these profits go to literacy and of course producing new books, let alone shipping them via UPS, is hardly carbon-neutral.)
posted by DU at 5:28 AM on January 16, 2008

I actually ordered a couple of books from them off Amazon before I knew their history. I had to pay shipping through Amazon, of course. Also, their books came with stickers on them - one of the books (that I paid $3.99 for) had a $1 clearance sticker on it. And then there were extra barcode stickers from BWB on them. I hate stickers. Still, I'll put this place on my list to check when I can't find books elsewhere.

Know what else is free, carbon-neutral shipping for used books? Me, walking around the corner to the Powell's. :-)
posted by bibbit at 5:41 AM on January 16, 2008

eco-libris may be of interest - stickers for your books that represent tree planting to offset the trees cut for producing the paper and bookmooch my favorite book swapping site.
posted by terrortubby at 7:45 AM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

twsf: When you're not in America, shipping that cheap for books is a GODSEND.
someone stop me from spending.
posted by divabat at 7:51 AM on January 16, 2008

IMO Amazon does such huge volume with distributed warehouses that it probably has a low carbon footprint on a book by book basis.
posted by stbalbach at 7:53 AM on January 16, 2008

I think we broke them - I just get a page with a runtime error. (But this is probably for the best, since I need more books like I need another hole in my head.)
posted by rtha at 8:52 AM on January 16, 2008

It looks like the site got swamped by MetaFilter traffic- right after I filled up my shopping cart. Thanks so much for the link- it's great. It may be more expensive than Amazon, but it's close and I like that I have a choice that works better for me.
posted by puddsharp at 8:54 AM on January 16, 2008

Is there some site I can go to to evaluate the effectiveness of this charity?
posted by mrnutty at 10:11 AM on January 16, 2008

No dig against BWB- but I've been renting my books from BookSwim. Its a netflix-style site with pretty good supply. In my mind it codifies what really happens with my books - I buy them at used bookstores and thrift stores and then sell or donate them back - but of course the selection in that case is catch-as-catch-can.

I don't mean to suggest that Bookswim is perfect - but I feel I am getting my money's worth and more. I'm a new Mom, and many libraries in NYC don't have a bookdrop - so overdue fines were a way of life. And I feel like I get new books far sooner than I would otherwise (no waiting for the paperback) - and no clutter !

Since their distribution center is in NJ, my service is pretty fast. YMMV on the left coast.

Their interface is much improved from a few month's ago, and they can import Amazon wishlists (if imperfectly). You'll need to submit ISDN numbers if you want them to add books to their stock, but they usually will.

My email is in my profile if you want a 50% off the first month's membership (no benefit to me that I know of).
posted by AuntLisa at 10:33 AM on January 16, 2008

...many libraries in NYC don't have a bookdrop...

posted by DU at 12:40 PM on January 16, 2008

...many libraries in NYC don't have a bookdrop...

posted by DU

All the ones in midtown have locked off their bookdrops during non-library hours. I'm told they were finding too much trash in the chutes. Personally - if the bookdrop is only open when the library is, I don't see much benefit in it.
posted by AuntLisa at 1:02 PM on January 16, 2008

Bookdrops closed. During non-library hours.

Civilization has ended.
posted by DU at 6:13 PM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

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