Impact and Sustainability

The Journey of a Book

journey of a book

At World of Books, we were founded on an ethos to do good, help charities, and protect the planet; it’s what we’re all about. Because of this, the journey of a book can be a wild one!

We source our collection from a number of places.  Last year, we made payments of £1.4 million to our charity partners who provide us with many of our books. We use book banks and our customers can even trade in their used books using our Ziffit service. This is our circular economy in action.

From beginning to end, our books go on quite a journey. It’s our job to make sure that their next chapter makes a meaningful and sustainable impact.

Journey of a Book Video by World of Books

New homes

Most of the books we receive are rehomed and reread. As a circular-economy, there’s nothing we love more than giving a book a new home and knowing it’s going to be loved by somebody else. Last year, we found new homes for over 16 million books in 192 countries!

We believe everybody should be able to share in the love of reading and also in the last year, we helped nearly 8 million customers gain access to affordable books and literacy.

Reselling the books helped us save an estimated 322 tonnes of books and media from waste. Every time you buy a book from us, you’re playing a huge part in this. Go you!

Emma Watson Applause GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Good causes

We don’t just sell books. We’re committed to promoting literacy in schools and sharing the love of reading with communities in need. Lots of books that come through our warehouses have a big impact on good causes.

We’ve pledged to donate 1 million books to good causes by 2022. Through our charity partners, we also donate books to schools and communities in need in Africa. So, when a book arrives at our warehouse, it could be the beginning of a very long journey indeed.

If you have books sitting on your shelf, you can make sure they benefit charity too – thanks to our Ziffit service’s partnership with Virgin Money Giving.

Kids Read GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

New purposes

A few light scuffs here and there and we can rehome books easily. But some books we receive have been loved a little too much and can’t be resold or donated. It’s not all over for these books though – it’s the beginning of a new chapter that makes a big impact. At World of Books, we make sure they are responsibly recycled.

Recycling books isn’t as easy as chucking them in the paper recycling bin. Unfortunately, the way most books are made can be a bit of a sticking point for recycling centres thanks to the glue that binds the pages together. It means that all-too-often they are rejected at recycling centres and end up waste.

Luckily, we work with specialist book recyclers to make sure that even if books don’t make the grade, they can be responsibly recycled and still go on a journey to do their bit to help the planet.

Each year, our warehouses responsibly recycle around 20,300 tonnes of books – the equivalent to half a million trees – to be made into new products like toilet roll and paper towels.

Book Earth GIF by Lil Dicky - Find & Share on GIPHY

Stay tuned to find out more about our circular economy and what measures we take to ensure we are a business for good. Did you know World of Books is a B Corp? Find out more!

Giving books a new home is a fantastic reason to buy used books. Find many more reasons to buy books second hand here.

What do you think about our books’ journeys? In what ways do you reuse and recycle your books? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Reply Nicholas Power August 9, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    Hi to all , like the plan of action you have there, first I have ever read of somebody/company doing something positive about re distributing books as against recycling them in a crusher, good luck to you all.
    Also all of the books I read are giving to a lady in her electrical shop and then passed on to various hospitals/hospice’s rather than being fed into a machine.

  • Reply C Callan December 1, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    I don’t understand where the ‘new’ books now sold on WOB come from? Described as being the first customer to buy/read them, surely this is completely different to the original business model?

    • Reply Jonella Vidal December 6, 2021 at 3:55 pm

      We only sell new books where we don’t have a used copy in stock. Through our Ziffit App customers can sell their new books back to us, allowing us to rehome them and keep the circular economy going.

  • Reply david simpkins July 20, 2022 at 8:39 am

    I would like a detailed explanation of how to use Ziffit to return books. I would like to scan barcodes with my phone then transfer that list to my laptop to complete the transaction. How does a technophobe do that?

    • Reply Jonella Vidal August 19, 2022 at 9:47 am


      Happy to help you with this. Firstly ensure you’re logged into your account on the mobile app. Then scan all your items via the mobile app like normal. When you are ready to complete your trade, select the ‘New Basket’ button on the top right of the app. This will then save your previous trade onto your account. Next, log into your Ziffit account on your laptop, and select ‘My Account’ on the top navigation bar. You then should be able to select ‘view’ on your ‘saved’ trade listing, and then can complete the trade on the following screen.

      For any further support or queries with this, feel free to contact [email protected] and our team will be happy to help!

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