SBC101 case

Better World Books – Social Entrepreneurship Case Study



Nguyen Thi Minh Thu

Vo Nguyen Thu Uyen

Course: SBC 2023

Date: April 28, 2023



Better World Books – Social Entrepreneurship Case Study



Education is a fundamental human right that is essential for ending the cycle of poverty. However, access to education is hampered in many developing countries due to a lack of resources, including educational materials such as books. The high cost of books, insufficient infrastructure, and limited access to educational resources all contribute to poor literacy rates and economic growth (Rashid, 2019). In underdeveloped nations, limited access to literature is a major issue. According to UNESCO, more than 750 million individuals worldwide lack basic reading abilities, with women constituting two-thirds of the population (Culala & De Leon, 2020). In certain nations, the scarcity of books is so severe that students are compelled to share textbooks or do not have any at all. Better World Books noticed a situation in which a vast volume of books was abandoned and shipped to landfills every year, but millions of individuals lacked access to books. The case demonstrates that social entrepreneurship is a highly effective and multifaceted strategy, which is both sustainable for an organization and capable of solving major issues.


Problem Statement

Better World Books is a social company that sells secondhand books online in order to encourage literacy and minimize waste. They addressed two problem statements: first, the issue of book waste and the environmental effect of millions of books thrown out each year, and second, the lack of access to books for many people, particularly in poor nations. For instance, a decrease in biomass and wood harvest accounts for 46% of books production environmental effect (Talbot, 2023). Better World Books spared not only many volumes from ending up in landfills by collecting and reselling used books but also gave inexpensive access to books for individuals who could not afford to buy them new. The company’s innovative solution to this challenge was to transform the selling of secondhand books into a viable business model that could finance literacy programs and other charity activities. Overall, Better World Books’ approach to tackling this issue was both novel and effective. The company’s dedication to social and environmental responsibility has aided in promoting reading, reducing waste, and promoting sustainable practices.


Unique Solutions

Better World Books’ unique approach promotes literacy and reduces waste by giving discarded books new life. The firm has developed a novel solution to the problem of book trash, which is a major environmental concern. Better World Books has built a sustainable approach that benefits both the environment and society by recycling and repurposing books (Smith, 2020). Better World Books has a unique answer in that they help non-profit groups that encourage reading. The corporation has collaborated with a number of non-profit organizations to contribute millions of books and generate millions of dollars to promote literacy efforts (Smith, 2020). This cooperation strategy ensures that the company’s revenues serve the areas that need them the most.

Moreover, Better World Books has created an online platform that offers clients a wide variety of books at reasonable costs. This online approach has made it simpler for customers to buy secondhand books without having to visit a physical store, which is especially convenient for individuals who live in rural places (Smith, 2020). In addition, the firm has launched a buy-one-give-one scheme, in which every book purchased results in a book donation to a literacy program. Better World Books has been able to combine profit and social impact because of this creative method, which has shown to be a successful means of boosting reading.


Solutions and Recommendations

The instance of Better World Books makes a compelling case for the social entrepreneurship model as a feasible and effective means of tackling social and environmental issues while still making a profit. The success of the company indicates that it is feasible to develop a sustainable business model that benefits society and the environment (Geissdoerfer et al., 2018). Better World Books’ creative approach to book retailing is one of its strengths. The firm is able to offer a diverse variety of titles at cheap costs by collaborating with libraries and other groups to acquire secondhand books (Smith, 2020). This minimizes trash and gives books to those who would not have been able to buy them otherwise (Caldera et al., 2019). Furthermore, the company’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond its business model to include environmentally friendly packaging and shipping practices, demonstrating a commitment to reducing its environmental impact.

On the basis of these assessments, Better World Books should cohesively integrate its social responsibility with its creative business strategies. Millions of books have been donated to literacy initiatives across the world as a consequence of the company’s program, which is why the distribution network needs to become more efficient (Smith, 2020). This initiative will encourage better education and address the issue of book waste by reusing books, including the supply chain elements. Furthermore, Better World Books’ social responsibility should be more comprehensively extended to its own employees. The firm should provide a greater range of advantages, such as higher bonuses, flexible scheduling, paid time off, and health insurance (Zaharee et al., 2018). These changes will enhance the lives of its employees and act as a driver for innovation and growth.




Finally, Better World Books is a successful example of social entrepreneurship that has addressed several concerns through its innovative business strategy. The company’s clear issue statement on a lack of access to books and the negative environmental impact of book trash has been the motivating factor behind its aim to make books more accessible and sustainable. Better World Books’ unique solutions, such as its Book for Book initiative and collaborations with libraries and literacy organizations, have allowed it to achieve its objective while benefiting society and the environment. The success of the firm indicates that social entrepreneurship may be lucrative and sustainable while simultaneously having a good social impact.


Lessons Learned

The key lesson learned is that the social entrepreneurship paradigm can be highly effective in the modern environment, which values social responsibility. The company’s creative business style, commitment to sustainability, and attention to social responsibility demonstrate that it is possible to build a profitable corporation while also positively impacting society and the environment. As a result, Better World Books offers an example for other firms interested in taking a socially responsible approach to entrepreneurship. Better World Books has created a win-win situation for all stakeholders by building a business that solves social and environmental concerns. Customers gain from inexpensive books while simultaneously contributing to a good cause, partners benefit from the company’s network and knowledge, and the environment benefits from less book waste. Thus, the success of Better World Books proves that enterprises may be successful while simultaneously benefiting society and the environment. As we confront increasingly serious social and environmental concerns, the role of social entrepreneurship in making the world a better place has never been more obvious.




Caldera, H. T. S., Desha, C., & Dawes, L. (2019). Evaluating the enablers and barriers for successful implementation of sustainable business practice in ‘lean’ SMEs. Journal of Cleaner Production, 218, 575-590.

Culala, H. J. D. & De Leon, J. A. V. (2020). Secondary education for sustainable development. Quality Education, 1-8.

Geissdoerfer, M., Vladimirova, D., & Evans, S. (2018). Sustainable business model innovation: A review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 198, 401-416.

Rashid, L. (2019). Entrepreneurship education and sustainable development goals: A literature review and a closer look at fragile states and technology-enabled approaches. Sustainability, 11(19).

Smith, G. A. (2020). Better World Books: A case study in sustainability [PDF document]. Retrieved from

Talbot, D. (2023, February 22). Impact of Book Publishing on Environment. Wordsrated.

Zaharee, M., Lipkie, T., Mehlman, S. K., & Neylon, S. K. (2018). Recruitment and retention of early-career technical talent: What young employees want from employers. Research-Technology Management, 61(5), 51-61.



SBC 2023 – Happy Listening Team – Case Study – BetterWorldBooks