Case Study
Jan 8, 2024

Better World Books eCommerce case study and how to start a look-alike marketplace

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Better World Books is an online bookstore that sells a wide range of new and used books while promoting literacy initiatives worldwide. If you want to start a similar eCommerce business with a marketplace model, Vendo simplifies the process by enabling you to offer a diverse range of high-quality products from various top-notch brands. 

With the Vendo platform, you can swiftly establish a marketplace that closely resembles the best in the business, and it can be up and running within days. Vendo handles the complexities of inventory management and shipping logistics, allowing you to concentrate on what truly matters – providing exceptional service to your customers.


Vendo is also a one-stop-shop for all your marketplace needs, providing you with a marketplace platform automating day-to-day operation, a catalog of brands to pick from or an ability to invite your own brands, merchandising and promotional tools, ability to sell through multiple channels (your existing website, emails & SMS, mobile app, social media), and ongoing daily support scaling your marketplace business.   

Empowering Literacy Through Profitable Sustainability: The Better World Books Journey

Better World Books stands as a remarkable example of a for-profit social enterprise that has not only thrived in the online book-selling market but has also contributed immensely to literacy initiatives worldwide. Since April 2008, this enterprise has fostered partnerships with over 900 libraries and 1,679 college campuses across the United States and Canada. Their mission is to collect and sell books, especially unwanted textbooks and library discards, to support non-profit literacy programs. This unique business model ensures that books are given a second life – they are either sold to generate funds for literacy initiatives, sent to non-profit partners for their programs, or recycled responsibly if they are unfit for sale or partner use. Through their dedicated e-commerce site, Better World Books successfully sells these collected books, marking their journey as a self-sustaining enterprise making a significant social impact.

Best Selling Product Categories:

  1. Used Books: Better World Books specializes in selling a diverse range of used books, including textbooks, fiction, non-fiction, and rare editions.
  2. New Books: In addition to used books, they also offer new titles to cater to various customer preferences.
  3. eBooks: To adapt to the digital age, Better World Books provides a selection of eBooks for tech-savvy readers.
  4. Audiobooks: Audiobooks have gained popularity, and the platform offers a collection of these for customers who prefer listening to books.
  5. Textbooks: College students often seek affordable options for textbooks, and Better World Books fulfills this need by offering a wide selection of used and new textbooks.
  6. Rare and Collectible Books: For collectors and enthusiasts, they feature a category dedicated to rare and collectible books, adding a unique dimension to their catalog.

Product Examples:

  • Used Textbooks: Better World Books offers a vast array of used college textbooks, making education more accessible and affordable.
  • Bestsellers: New releases and popular bestsellers attract a broad audience.
  • Vintage Novels: Collectors can find vintage and rare novels, satisfying their passion for unique editions.
  • Children's Books: A selection of children's books is available, encouraging early literacy.
  • Self-Help and Non-Fiction: The platform caters to those seeking personal development and knowledge through self-help and non-fiction books.

Success Factors:

  • Social Impact: The unique business model of funding literacy initiatives with book sales resonates with socially conscious consumers, providing a powerful selling point.
  • Wide Product Range: Offering both new and used books, along with eBooks and audiobooks, broadens the customer base and caters to diverse preferences.
  • Partnerships: Collaborations with libraries and college campuses create a robust supply chain, ensuring a steady influx of books.
  • Sustainability: Responsible recycling of unsellable books aligns with eco-friendly practices, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers.
  • Online Presence: An efficient e-commerce platform facilitates easy book searches, purchases, and accessibility to a global audience.
  • Customer Engagement: Engaging customers in their mission to promote literacy fosters a loyal customer base.

For anyone seeking to replicate Better World Books success in the e-commerce space, it is crucial to focus on a unique selling proposition that resonates with socially conscious consumers. Building partnerships and a wide product range are essential to ensure a steady supply and diverse customer base. Additionally, maintaining a strong online presence and engaging customers in your mission can foster loyalty and trust, key elements in achieving sustainable success in e-commerce.

Get started with a look-alike marketplace like Better World Books on Vendo!


  • Book a demo call: We’ll set you up with a demo marketplace 
  • Customize your Storefront: We’ll help you craft an on-brand shopping UX 
  • Onboard Brands: Pick from the Vendo brand catalog. Or invite your own.
  • Select Products: Curate product collections manually or automate it.
  • Embed products: Make your editorial content and newsletters shoppable 
  • Get Paid: Get paid as soon as products are shipped by the brands. 
  • Get Repeat Sales: Keep your customer relationship, emails, order history


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