In 2002, three college students attempted to sell their textbooks back to the university bookstore. They were offered a pittance, and the trio wondered whether the Internet might help them get a better deal.

A recent article at states, "That inspiration led to the creation of Better World Books, an online bookseller that accepts unwanted books from individuals and libraries and contributes to literacy efforts by donating books, money and volunteer hours to the cause."

Better World Books is a class "B" organization (B stands for "benefit"). It's a new breed of social enterprise, one which works for profits that are then re-invested into a worthy cause. BWB, for instance, partners with domestic and international nonprofit organizations to educate both adults and children. Paul Sansone, the company's chief financial officer, says, "Our brand promise is that every book that we sell will help fund literacy initiatives around the world." 

The company also saves books from landfills, provides benefits such as stock options, and gives its employees two days off for every day of volunteer service. "And over time, that’s a competitive advantage for us because we have sharper, better people who want to work with us because it’s not just a job for them. They feel like they're part of something bigger," says Sansone.

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