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Local News

Thursday, 22 July 2010 7:29 P.M.

Better World Books maintains Lilith Fair's spirit of renewal and outreach

Photo credit: www.berkleycollege.edu

Better World Books donation box
by Pete Bublitz
petblitz@yahoo.com

 

CLARKSTON, Mich. -- Amid the heat gathered at the DTE Energy Music Theatre on Wednesday, July 21, several prominent artists occupied the fairground stages for a Detroit stop of the resurrected Lilith Fair. Just left of the gate, however, one festival-affiliated tent was occupied with a for-profit objective surrounding literary preservation.

At the series of booths connected with the i4c Campaign, representatives of Better World Books were on hand to gather names and spread information about the agenda of their company, based primarily out of Indiana and Georgia. Chief among these was BWB President and CEO David W. Murphy and Marketing Events Specialist Abbey Frick.

According to Murphy, the goal of such an organization was to collect millions of books discarded across the country and possibly resell them for educational and otherwise purposes. Such collection efforts were regarded by Murphy as averting their fate from landfills to libraries, classrooms, or other public or private space.

“It’s not only to save the world literally, but also environmentally,” he said. In being a for-profit entity, Murphy believes in using collected profit to collect a growing number of published materials, be it through academic institutions, libraries and affiliate book collecting organizations (such as Room to Read out of San Francisco), or major corporate establishments.

“We raised $8.3 million for our partners in libraries,” he said. “In the next year, it could raise up to $12 million.”

Even with sponsors like Google and ADP plus overall employment capacity, according to Murphy, the numbers seem to be growing. At their employment locations, especially in Mishawaka, Indiana, the employee total was well over 300.

“Just like any company, we have got to grow,” said Murphy. “The more we scale, the more impact we have on literacy.”

The company seeks a greater base in profits from college campuses nationwide, perhaps in relation to its advent as a collegiate endeavor. In 2001, Notre Dame graduates Kreese Fuchs and Xavier Helgesen came up with Better World Books initially as a book drive basis for publication profit. It was in 2004 that the coerced idea became a major entity with Murphy’s selection as President.

Today, Murphy considers that collegiate involvement to still be increasing, with over 1900 campuses and 2300 libraries maintaining ties with Better World.

As for its core objective, Murphy added that with 70,000 books being brought to the Mishawaka warehouse per day, he anticipated bringing in over 20 million by year’s end. On the Better World Books website, an active tally meter counts over 30 million books that were saved from landfills.

For a younger staffer like Abbey Frick, the excitement over such figures also spans how many individuals have personally voiced their interest in lending a hand, or both hands from a book-handling perspective. By the time they were bringing down the tent, Frick estimated that they got 400 signatures from people who sought to be contacted with further information about Better World, a result much better than other portions of the Lilith tour.

“We would, at lowest, have two to three full sheets. Here we had 12 full sheets.” Such success in collection and countrywide rapport intensifies the writing on the wall: that a pastime like reading should never be destined for a trash bin.

 

Photo credit: i87.photobucket.com

Better World Books volunteers are sorting and packing books.

 

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