Better World Books started with three Notre Dame students who began selling their textbooks for a profit. What may have started small, however, definitely isn’t small anymore. Since its founding in 2002, this company has made a large impact. Although the founders initially sold textbooks for a profit, profits aren’t necessarily the main goal for Better World Books now. In fact, their ultimate goal is to improve literacy around the world. The stats for Better World Books speak for themselves:
  • They have raised $20,850,000 and counting for libraries and efforts to improve literacy.
  • They have donated 16,070,000 books and counting (every time someone purchases a book from them, they donate a book).
  • Roughly 187,069,000 books and counting have been recycled through them.
It’s pretty amazing to see the direct growth of these statistics on the company’s website. For each of these statistics, they have an ongoing count. Better World Books has also partnered with 3,100 libraries and 8,100 college campuses around the US. But they are more than a factory for donating books and money toward literacy; they are of course an online bookstore as well.

The Good

Right off the bat, as a customer of Better World Books, you’d enjoy shopping from a library that has about eight million new and used titles. They offer at least 35 different categories to search in too. Not only is it nice to have the option for both new and used books; they also have titles in a variety of formats, including printed books (paperback and hardback), audiobooks, and ebooks. For anyone interested, there are also MP3 CDs and DVDs.

That’s just the beginning of what this company provides. The following features set apart Better World Books from many of its competitors:

  • Free shipping around the globe. That’s right! One of the main concerns customers might have with online shopping is the cost of shipping. But with Better World Books, you don’t have to worry about that. They ship orders for free. And more than that, they offer this on a global scale, not just for US orders.
  • A 60-day return policy. This company has gone above and beyond in terms of return policies. While it’s nice to have any kind of return policy at all, many competing online bookstores might have a window of two weeks to 30 days in which customers can return unwanted orders. But with Better World Books, you can in fact return an order as long as it’s within 60 days of your purchase date. That kind of leeway is a definite perk. Hopefully you won’t make a return at all, but it’s nice to know you have that flexibility if something comes up.
  • Online customer reviews. Reviews can be incredibly valuable when you’re shopping online. Unlike shopping in a physical bookstore, you can’t hold the book you’re thinking about buying to see its condition or to flip through the pages. Better World Books has thought of this and offers a place on their site where customers have reviewed books they’ve purchased from the company. This is very helpful for other customers who might be on the fence about a particular title.Indeed, Better World Books has features that add to customer convenience, confidence in making a purchase, and flexibility when an order doesn’t go as planned. Qualities like these make this company stand out from its competitors.

The Bad

With an extensive selection, free shipping, and flexible returns, what more could a customer want? Well, depending on the customer, there are a few features that Better World Books doesn’t have that could turn into deal breakers. Even though the company has much to offer, they don’t provide every customer-friendly option out there.

  • Their website has no editorial reviews. While it’s extremely helpful that this company provides customer reviews on their site, they still fail to provide editorial reviews. (These reviews can be from professionals, not just customers, who review a book’s content.) These reviews would be helpful to have for customers who value an editor’s opinion. For instance, you might feel comfortable purchasing anything from Better World Books because you trust their pricing and policies. But would you like the particular book you’re thinking about buying? Editorial reviews can help you decide whether you want to actually purchase a book or just borrow it from your local library.
  • They do not offer memberships. While it may not be a red flag, the fact that BWB does not have memberships can be disappointing for some customers. Memberships can be valuable because they can possibly lower the amount of money you spend over time, or they can lead to customer rewards or discounts. In particular, if you plan to order frequently from an online bookstore, a membership would make your life easier and your purchases more convenient. But with this company, you won’t have that option to pay for a subscription up front.
  • Customers are not rewarded for loyalty. In general, it’s nice for a customer to know that he or she would be rewarded for loyalty to a company. These rewards can refer to a variety of deals and perks that you earn simply from ordering a certain number of books from a business. But with Better World Books, you don’t really have that option. They do offer email subscriptions, through which you can get word of current promotions and news from the company. But other than that, customers are not usually recognized for their business.Truthfully, the weaknesses for this company are not crucial and will likely not get in the way of your own orders. But still, they are features the company lacks that would help out customers and make their purchases easier.
  • The Bottom Line

    Better World Books is a well-established online bookstore. They have more than a decade of experience in their industry and a positive reputation. In particular, they received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, which speaks highly of their customer relations.

    Furthermore, the company’s goals are very noble. Anyone who purchases a book from them can feel good about knowing that the company will donate a book somewhere in exchange. Their profits go toward a great cause, and as a book lover, you can feel great about that as well.

    The main reason this company would not be a recommended option is for customers who would rather obtain a membership with an online bookstore. Beyond that, however, this company’s customer reviews, return policies, and more are convenient and helpful. They also buy back textbooks that customers want to sell, making them an even more profitable resource. Better World Books has great experience, excellent goals, and many features to satisfy customers.

    Are there any inaccuracies in this review? We take our accuracy very seriously and would love your feedback. Give feedback here.

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      April 15th, 2016

      I’ve been waiting my order for more than a month and Better World Books refuses to refund me. They’ve kept changing the delivery date again and again (I’ve been choosing them over other seller because of the delivery dates) and ask me to wait until an undefined date to ask for refund. At the end of the day, I’ve lost 55$ and a lot of time dealing with their consumers’ service. Oh, and by the way they were pretty unpleasant with me since they told me that, “[i]f this delivery time did not meet [my] needs, [I was] not obligated to place the order”, which is inadmissible as they are unable to give me a delivery date !

      I’ve made a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (I’m not the first!) and I hope I could get refund. Nevertheless, I’ve spent a lot of time demanding that the Internet Order Merchandise Rule be honoured, and time is money.

      Hope this review will help you, don’t go with them, they are fraudster!

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