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I have been obsessed with books for as long as I can remember. For roughly the same amount of time, I’ve been skeptical of used books. Sure, they’re interesting and mysterious in theory, but I didn’t know where they had been, whose hands had touched them before me! I always preferred the smell of new books to used, giving me the illusion that I was the first one to ever discover this story, the first one to ever enter this fictional world.
Anyway, then I got to university and, being the english literature major that I am, I had to buy a lot of novels. And, being the frugal person (*cough* cheapskate) that I am, I quickly got very frustrated by the outrageous prices that the university bookstore was charging for all these books. I mean, I’m already paying them how many thousands of dollars a year in tuition, and now they want me to give them another thousand for books?! I don’t think so.
Thus, in my attempt to single-handedly boycott my school’s money-grab of a textbook store, I started researching online companies that sold used books and came across Better World Books, and I will never look back.
“Like New” Used Books
I still wasn’t totally sold on the idea of buying someone else’s old books but, I rationalized it to myself that it was technically a textbook for school and I would likely sell it as such when I finished the course. It’s not like I would have these smelly, beat up, old books sitting on my bookshelves at home with all my other beautiful books. And the price was right. I bought all of my “textbooks” for the year for less than a third of what I would have paid at my school’s bookstore, spending between three and eight dollars per book on this website.
Also, they have nearly every book imaginable on this site, books that even Amazon had never heard of, which was great for me because many of my professors like to assign books from the deepest, darkest parts of the Upside Down it seems, ones that I could previously only ever find at – you got it – the university bookstore (coincidence? I think not).
So, I ordered, and prayed that the price I paid would not reflect the condition of the books that I was about to receive. And I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the novels I received looked brand new, while others had minor creases in the spines or a few dog-eared pages (and no gross old book smells! Yay!). I was so relieved and would definitely consider buying my own personal books from here in the future.
Free International Shipping
Need I say more?!
Well, if you’re a little skeptical about this claim, as I was at first, I will just say this: for orders outside of the US, Better World Books has a 10-21 business days policy. Not ideal if you’re in a hurry to get your books, but I always try to order early and give myself lots of time before classes start for my orders to arrive, and I have always gotten my books in less than 21 days.
Supporting Literacy Programs
This one wasn’t a huge factor when I was considering which company to buy from but, after using Better World Books for almost a year now, I’m so glad that I chose this one. For every book that you purchase from their website, Better World Books donates a book to literacy programs around the world. If this wasn’t awesome enough, after you place an order, the website shows you the contributions that you paid from that purchase and keeps a running total from all your orders on your account. It’s so nice to see that number climb higher and higher (and higher and higher, if you’re anything like me!), and know that you are actually making a difference in the lives of young readers around the world.
Amazing Customer Service
Again, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The last time that I placed an order, one of the books I received was written in French. I don’t speak French, and nowhere on the website did it indicate that this book was written in a language other than English. When I first contacted their customer service department, I was expecting it to be a huge battle trying to sort this out and was already thinking up a back-up plan if they were going to be difficult about it. However, a representative responded to my email within a day or two, took all my information, and said she would look into what happened and see if they had the correct book in stock to send to me.
She responded a few days later and informed me that, unfortunately, they didn’t have the English version at their store, and she was so apologetic! I would’ve been satisfied if that had been the end of it. I’ve never had a company’s customer service be so personable. But, she then continued on, saying she was going to issue me a full refund for the book (which I had in my account in only a few business days) and told me I didn’t have to return the book to their warehouse; she just asked that I donate it to a good cause. Is this place even real?!
Overall, I cannot say enough good things about Better World Books and I just had to share it because I feel like I’ve found this hidden gem and, if I can get more people to boycott university bookstores, or simply support a growing business, then I’m happy.