Made in Michiana: Homegrown company goes international with their used book business

Made in Michiana: Homegrown company goes international with their used book business

MISHAWAKA, IND. -- Made in Michiana is back again to introduce a home grown- international book company!

Better World Books taking their story telling to a whole new level.

“Not too many people know about Better World Books despite having served 100 million customers, we ship to over 200 countries," says current President and CEO Dustin Holland.

With rows, and rows, and rows of books.

Over 6 million to be exact in this 300,000 square foot building alone.

What started as a passion project between 3 college students has now gone global.

“This is..I’m going into my 17th year," says Holland.

“So you have been right from the beginning?" asked Summer Horan.

“Right from the beginning. I was one of the first few employees..I was the first non Notre Dame graduate that they hired," says Holland.

17 years ago--3 seniors at Notre Dame Christopher Fuchs, Xavier Helgesen and Jeff Kurtzman were looking for something to do and came together with an idea to sell textbooks.

“So the Robinson Center was actually home to our first warehouse. It was a closet in the old building," says Holland. "Over time that room changed, our space needs expanded so we moved elsewhere.”

Elsewhere turned out to be a variety of locations around Michiana and the rest of the world.

“We’ve got four global distribution points. We have 3 in the United States, the one here in Mishawaka, one in Reno Nevada, and one in York, Pennsylvania. And we have a global distribution site just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland," says Holland.

The one here in Mishawaka is at the corner of Currant Road and McKinley just down the road from AM General.

“So you guys have been pretty busy these last 17 years?" asked Horan.

“We’ve been busy," says Holland.

Busy might be an understatement.

Better World Books employs nearly 500 people worldwide.

Serves over 100 million customers in 5 different languages.

Sells about 2 million digitized books currently available online.

And to date, has donated over 30 million books around the world.

Now with almost 20 years experience the company is busier than ever!

“And we’ve been busier during the pandemic as people are self-quarantining and looking for something to do in their house," says Holland.

As customer needs changed, the company adapted.

“It’s been tough. We’ve had to go through and reengineer our processes across the board," says Holland.

The company restructured employee hours to have less people working at once for a safer experience while still meeting the needs of customers.

“If a customer orders a book on amazon on a Monday, that book needs to be shipped out within 24 hours. Same with our website," says Holland.

As one of Amazon's biggest sellers of used books--the company is able to reach millions--while losing millions too.

“They take 40% of every dollar. Of revenue that we sell on their platform. So if we sell a $10 book, $4 goes to Amazon. If we sell $10 on better world books that money goes back into the company. We’re able to support our employees and give back and donate more books around the world," says Holland.

For every book bought directly from Better World Books the company donates a book to someone in need.

Many times profits go to benefit local literacy partners.

“We’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Robinson Center. And they just opened up their new building and our drop box is located right outside," says Holland.

Drop boxes that help collect and re-distribute books.

“Our first most goal is to keep the book in the reading cycle. And do everything we can to prevent it from being recycled," says Holland.

All while making getting books into customers hands quick and easy.

“If we have digitized and preserved  that copy, you can check that book out while waiting for yours to come in the mail," says Holland.

All important missions for the company recently acquired by philanthropist, Brewster Khale, who invented Internet Archive, a digitized space for books almost 20 years ago.

“To have literacy spread throughout the world and get a book into everyone’s hands," says HR director, Jill Bortone.

A mission for literacy and book life longevity for years and avid readers to come.

One page.

One story.

One book at a time.

“We want to get these books and make them accessible to everyone in the world, where they belong," says Holland.

If you are a book lover in need of a new favorite or are just looking for a change in career--head over to Better World Books website.

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