Better World Books Gives Old Books New Life

SUSIE GHARIB, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: More and more businesses are
following this principle of creating companies not only to build the bottom
line, but to build a better world. Tom.

TOM HUDSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: We’ve found several young entrepreneurs, Susie, who are
doing well by doing good. This isn’t just a strategy though for start-ups.
From giant chains found on every corner to socially responsible investing
funds, tonight we profile companies embracing the dual goals of “Conscious
Capital.”

GHARIB: And we begin in northwest Indiana at a company that buys and
sells used books and donates a portion of its profits to literacy projects.
Diane Eastabrook reports.

DIANE EASTABROOK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Better World
Books is an orphanage of sorts for used books. They come into the company’s
Mishawaka, Indiana warehouse by the hundreds where they get sorted,
recycled, re-sold or donated to charity. Better World’s shelves are crammed
with some four million hard covers and paperbacks with nearly 2.5 million
unique titles.

KREECE FUCHS, VP & CO-FOUNDER, BETTER WORLD BOOKS: Right here we’re
looking at a book “Understanding Nutrition” that could have come in from
the University of Nebraska or who knows where.

EASTABROOK: And it’s right next to a book about Donald Rumsfeld.

FUCHS: Yep it’s a completely random put away.

EASTABROOK: Kreece Fuchs is one of Better World’s three co-founders.
The trio of former University of Notre Dame students hatched the idea for
the company in their dorm. They found they could make more money selling
their used text books over the Internet than back to the school bookstore.

FUCHS: Over the course of that summer after I graduated, I would get
an email saying your book sold and I would run to the post office and ship
the book and you know a few days later I sold another book.

EASTABROOK: Last year Better World made about $55 million buying and
selling new and used books. The company donated roughly $2 million to
literacy programs and to libraries which give Better World their unwanted
inventories. The public library in Evanston, Illinois has netted about
$4,600 over the past couple of years for the 20,000 books it discarded.

MARIANTHI THANOPOULOS, EVANSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY: These books will end
up in the hands of people versus landfills. So, it’s really not for the
money I would say. It’s just a couple thousand dollars a year, but it
inspires another generation of learners and readers.

EASTABROOK: Better World is also making northwest Indiana a better
place to live. The employee-owned company is providing more than 200 jobs
in an area where unemployment tops 11 percent. Shipping clerk Rick
Gonzales feels fortunate to be working.

RICK GONZALES, EMPLOYEE, BETTER WORLD BOOKS: It took me roughly a
year- and-a-half to find a job, let alone one I could rely on.

EASTABROOK: Jennifer Thompson is researching book titles until she
can find a teaching job.

JENNIFER THOMPSON, EMPLOYEE, BETTER WORLD BOOKS: I vastly prefer it
to subbing. The books don’t talk back to you as much.

EASTABROOK: Better World celebrated a milestone a few months ago.
In less than 10 years the company has donated $10 million worldwide. Not
bad for this young entrepreneur who passed up medical school to hawk books.
How many people have benefited do you think today over the last 10 years?

FUCHS: We think it’s millions of children.

EASTABROOK: Diane Eastabrook, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Mishawaka, Indiana.


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