Better World Books

Posted: 19 Mar 2012

See all articles by Michael I. Norton

Michael I. Norton

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit

Fiona Wilson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jill Avery

Harvard Business School

Thomas J. Steenburgh

University of Virginia - Darden Graduate School of Business

Date Written: October 21, 2010

Abstract

Better World Books, a young start-up, provides a socially-conscious alternative to Amazon, collecting and selling used books to keep them out of the wastestream, while providing a portion of their profits to support global literacy efforts. The case presents an emerging new business model: the for profit "B corporation" designed to combine profits and mission. Founder Xavier Helgesen struggles with how to price his products to capture the value of their social good, how to manage multiple channels of distribution, including selling direct to consumers, and managing negative public perceptions of the social impact of the business once the company turns profitable.

Learning Objective: To introduce a new type of business model which combines for-profit and social mission. To explore the challenges and opportunities associated with having a social mission.

Suggested Citation

Norton, Michael I. and Wilson, Fiona and Avery, Jill J. and Steenburgh, Thomas J., Better World Books (October 21, 2010). Harvard Business School Marketing Unit case no. 511-057. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2025068

Michael I. Norton (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Fiona Wilson

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Jill J. Avery

Harvard Business School ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States
6174958084 (Phone)

Thomas J. Steenburgh

University of Virginia - Darden Graduate School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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