Have You Ever Heard of Better World Books?

A Japan Guy Review

Reading is an important part of living, studying, and working abroad. Books can provide you solace during those lonely times in Japan, they can help you to expand your thinking if you use them right, and (my personal favorite) you can even use books to learn a new language…if you’re diligent.

I want to tell you about a company I heard of through a training friend. During my initial training week for my current teaching position, one of my fellow teachers saw me reading “The Count of Monte Cristo”(one of my favorites) and asked if I had ever heard of Better World Books. The name of the company didn’t ring a bell, so I asked her about it. She told me that she really loved reading and used this company to buy cheap, used books at extremely low prices. It sounded pretty interesting to me, so I checked it out a bit and bookmarked it. At the time I was studying for my Dental Admissions Test (which didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked) and wanted a copy of the science books I had been using in university. I tried asking my family to send me the books, but everyone seemed a bit too busy and the shipping seemed as though it would be a bit too expensive (college science books can be SUPER heavy). I used Better World Books as a solution to a problem: getting English books to Japan without having to pay an arm and a leg. Here’s what my very first order looked like back in August of 2008:

Order Contents

Organic Chemistry (with InfoTrac Printed Access Card) by John E. McMurry

Life, the Science of Biology by William K. Purves

Stock Investing For Dummies (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance)) by Paul Mladjenovic

General Chemistry by Kenneth W. Whitten, Raymond E. Davis, Peck M. Larry, M. Larry Peck
BWB Bookmark 2008
International (10-21 business days)
Carbon Neutral Shipping

Shipment Summary
International (10-21 business days)

**Look at how cheap the shipping is! I know the books were used, but they all got to me in pretty good condition. The shipping alone was enough to make me buy (keep in mind these are three, university-level, science textbooks, plus the Investing for Dummies book). I’ve been a customer ever since.

I know what you might be thinking, “Why would I need Better World Books (BWB) when there are companies like Amazon out there?” Well, there are three reasons you may want to consider Better World Books. The first reason is that it’s great for those who may be altruistic. BWB is company is working towards social improvement in Africa; to increase literacy. So far they have raised $8,820,596.46 for Global Literacy (and counting). Reason number two: If you’re environmentally-conscious, BWB has prevented 36,455,100 books from being sent to landfills (and counting). What if you’re not so big on social causes? The other reason to buy is that it’s dirt cheap to buy books from this company. I have purchased several selections from them, and even though I’m in Japan, shipping costs have always been far cheaper than what I have gotten through Amazon.com.

There are downsides to purchasing through BWB, though. The biggest downside is that their selection is much more limited. On Amazon, rest assured I’m able to find nearly any book title that I’m looking for. I can’t say I’m the most avid of readers, but I do my fair share from time to time. On occasion I haven’t been able to find the book I was looking for on BWB and chose to use Amazon instead. The other bad thing about BWB is that sometimes (I’ve never experienced it personally, but have had friends who have) shipping may take a lot longer than it does with a company like Amazon.

Although it does have some minor issues here and there, all in all Better World Books can be wonderful for a person living abroad looking for materials to read.

Happy Reading!!

Donald Ash

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Donald Ash is an ATLien expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last six years. While in aforesaid time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator, writer, designer, editor, programmer, and occasional bad artist of thejapanguy.com blog (that's just way too many hats, dude). Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.
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