For the Love of Literacy–Better World Books and the Internet Archive Unite to Preserve Millions of Books

Better World Books

Announced today, Better World Books, the world’s leading socially conscious online bookseller, is now owned by Better World Libraries, a mission-aligned, not-for-profit organization that is affiliated with longtime partner, the Internet Archive.  This groundbreaking partnership will allow both organizations to pursue their collective mission of making knowledge universally accessible to readers everywhere. This new relationship will provide additional resources and newfound synergies backed by a shared enthusiasm for advancing global literacy. Together, the two organizations are expanding the digital frontier of book preservation to ensure books are accessible to all for generations to come.

This new relationship will allow Better World Books to provide a steady stream of books to be digitized by the Internet Archive, thereby growing its digital holdings to millions of books. Libraries that work alongside Better World Books will now make a bigger impact than ever. Any book that does not yet exist in digital form will go into a pipeline for future digitization, preservation and access.  According to Brewster Kahle, Founder and Digital Librarian at the Internet Archive, “The Better World Books origin story is inspiring, and the service they provide to libraries is invaluable. These are our kind of people. We share their values, and we are proud to partner with Better World Books and libraries around the world to promote the goal of universal access to all knowledge.” 

Better World Books was born in 2003, when a group of recent college graduates sold their used textbooks online. Their success eventually led to the creation of a revolutionary new business model where used books are collected primarily from libraries, booksellers, colleges, and universities in six countries and then are either resold online, donated or recycled. To date, Better World Books has donated almost 27 million books worldwide, has raised close to $29 million for libraries and literacy, and has saved more than 326 million books from landfills. With the backing of the not-for-profit Better World Libraries, Better World Books will enhance these valuable services to libraries and readers. 

According to Jim Michalko, former president of The Research Libraries Group, Inc., and a Better World Books board member, “This new relationship is a win for the library community. One of the biggest challenges facing libraries today is responsibly removing materials from their shelves so they can bring in more desirable materials or repurpose space to fit community needs. Better World Books has always been a trusted partner in this activity. Now, libraries can provide books to Better World Books knowing that a digital copy will be created and preserved if one doesn’t yet exist. That’s responsible collection management.” 

The Internet Archive has long been committed to digitizing books and library materials so they can be accessed by users all over the world. Through digitization, these materials can be used by researchers in large-scale, data-driven computing investigations, preserved in both digital and physical form, and where appropriate, loaned to readers. 

Dustin Holland, the newly appointed President and CEO of Better World Books, underscores, “We exist to make a difference in the world, and our customers make that possible. We are honored to join the Internet Archive family, and our partnership allows us to extract the maximum value out of every book we collect at scale, while continuing to delight readers all over the world.”

Better World Books remains the bookstore that customers know and love, with its operations now enhanced for the services it offers to libraries and readers alike. Shop with confidence and help us celebrate this exciting new partnership with a 10% discount on purchases made through the end of the year using discount code “BWBIA”. At checkout, you will have an opportunity to round up your purchase amount to benefit the Internet Archive and directly support our mission.

For more about the Internet Archive click here. For more about Better World Books click here.

About chrisfreeland

Chris Freeland is the Director of Open Libraries at Internet Archive.
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18 Responses to For the Love of Literacy–Better World Books and the Internet Archive Unite to Preserve Millions of Books

  1. a reader says:

    “Any book that does not yet exist in digital form will go into a pipeline for future digitization, preservation and access.”

    I appreciate the need to prioritize preservation resources, but please do not limit the pipeline to books that have not already been scanned.

    We probably don’t need a hundred scans of the The Devil Wears Prada, but as we all know, many notable books (textbooks, monographs, etc.) have multiple editions and printings; many earlier scans were library holdings which were damaged/defaced; and many of the latest scans (e.g., many of the Trent books) have very low contrast, irregular warping, gutter shadowing, etc. Machine learning can do a lot, but it can’t magically fix a book with unusual color/layout (e.g., art books) or typesetting (e.g., a lot of mathematics books) if no clean copy exists (or, perhaps, multiple semi-clean copies).

    One way to help prioritization might be to enable (trusted) users to mark existing scans that are incomplete, contain illegible text, have color issues beyond the usual page yellowing, etc. (That is, a wish list for re-scans.) Someday, we may be sad when library holdings from 1950-2000 have been deaccessioned and recycled en masse (via BWB) and discover that we don’t actually have good copies of important texts.

  2. I am very happy to work together. Moving towards a world of digital books

  3. Nemo says:

    Great! This was the best news of the year, made my day when I was told. So does this mean I can buy a pallet of books from BWB and have it dispatched to the IA as long as they’re part of the wish list? 🙂
    https://archive.org/download/open_libraries_wish_list

  4. Chris says:

    So who has priority over new books received from libraries or other sources—customers of BWB or the IA? While I am a huge fan of IA, I also buy a lot of books from BWB.

  5. Andrew says:

    I would be interested in more details on the process here and about how it will impact the ecosystem of physical books in libraries. I’m concerned that this initiative will encourage shelf-clearing and the removal of physical books from library shelves. In fact, it seems like that’s the primary goal — to get books off of the shelves. Via the Book Traces project, we have proven that many individual copies in libraries contain unique historical evidence that will be lost when this happens: http://booktraces.org

  6. I am very happy to work together. Moving towards a world of digital books

  7. It’s good to hear that Internet Archive has already taken steps to digitizing books and library materials.

  8. آهنگ says:

    I’m concerned that this initiative will encourage shelf-clearing and the removal of physical books from library shelves

  9. I would be interested in more details on the process here and about how it will impact the ecosystem of physical books in libraries. I’m concerned that this initiative will encourage shelf-clearing and the removal of physical books from library shelves.

  10. Great! This was the best news of the year, how i can sponser a book?

  11. I appreciate the need to prioritize preservation resources, but please do not limit the pipeline to books that have not already been scanned.

  12. آهنگ says:

    I am very happy to work together. Moving towards a world of digital books

  13. I’m concerned that this initiative will encourage shelf-clearing and the removal of physical books from library shelves

  14. Tractors says:

    Hello,
    Am glad that I came across this article and got
    to know such informative information
    Thank you and keep sharing more such valuable information.

  15. آهنگ says:

    It’s good to hear that Internet Archive has already taken steps to digitizing books and library materials.

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