They donate more money to literacy promotion in Africa and other parts of the world than most of us make in a year.
Despite the above fact, many folks, including lots of their competitors, are upset with them.
I'll outline some frequent complaints. I'm not asserting their truthfulness
- They leave one with the impression that they're a charity when they're a for-profit company
- They lead college students to believe the books students give to Better World Books are being shipped to folks in Africa -- when in fact those books are being sold, and 5-10% of profits (not net) are going to a fund that sends books to Africa.
- Their management is present on the boards of some of the charities that they donate to, which some feel is a conflict of interest.
I'll note that, in particular, I spoke to a number of students at a local community college who believed that donations to BWB actually got shipped to Africa. Do students at most schools that have BWB donation boxes believe that? I couldn't tell you.
Here's an article, with more information about BWB than most folks have:
An interesting quote:
'For Helgesen, Fuchs and Kurtzman, giving back is a vital part of the operation. Better World Books donates 5 to 10 percent of its revenue back into the hands of libraries and literacy programs around the world.'
Here's my personal take:
They offer some good deals. I've ordered from them maybe a dozen times, and their customer service is good, their grading is usually pretty honest, and they ship promptly. Their packing leaves something to be desired on cheap titles, but when I ordered some new $100 reference titles from them, they packed better than the average bear.
I will note that the single time they really messed up an order through ABEBooks, I got a refund in full, and they didn't ask me to send the book back.
I may show some orders from them in future posts, and may revisit the issue of their public image vs reality if my readers show interest.
* Note: I'm not saying these complaints are either true, nor that they would matter if true. I invite the reader to think about these things.