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

by | Nov 6, 2019 | 0 comments

Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle gave a keynote address at the Charleston Conference this morning in which he and Better World Books CEO, Dustin Holland, announced that Better World Books is now owned by a non-profit affiliated with Internet Archive, Better World Libraries. This is seen as as a major step forward toward their joint mission: providing access to the knowledge in books to everyone in the world. Now libraries who deaccession to BWB can have even greater social impact, because the Internet Archive will acquire, digitize, lend, store and digitally preserve millions of books from BWB’s inventory over the next few years.

At the same time, they will be sharing a major dissemination program for their digitized books through clickable citations in Wikipedia articles in 8 different languages. So that digital learners, scholars, journalists and editors can dive deeper–and fact check the sources–in the articles of the world’s #5 website, Wikipedia. At a time when the veracity of facts is being challenged, we believe this partnership between Wikipedia and the Internet Archive, with resources from Better World Books, can help bolster information integrity.


See the official press release below:

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 2001, 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.”

All Better World Books offices and operations remain unchanged by this transaction.

About Internet Archive

The Internet Archive , a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a physical library, the Internet Archive provides free access to its resources for researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled and the general public. Its mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge. Since its launch in 1996, the Internet Archive has archived over 380 billion web pages, over 20 million books and texts and over 4.5 million audio recordings. 

About Better World Books

Better World Books is a for-profit socially conscious business and a global online bookseller that collects and sells new and used books online matching each purchase with a book donation, Book-for-Book™. Each sale generates funds for literacy and education initiatives in the UK, US, and around the world. Since its launch in 2003, Better World Books has raised close to $29 million for libraries and literacy, donated almost 27 million books and reused or recycled more than 326 million books.

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