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Top 5 Ethical Booksellers

Many of us are doing our best to avoid Amazon due to their tax avoidance, workers’ rights abuses and huge climate impacts. Below we run through our five most ethical booksellers as an alternative to Amazon, based on our newly updated guide to bookshops, both 'bricks & mortar' and online sellers.

World of Books

World of Books is the highest scoring retailer in our Booksellers shopping guide, receiving a score of 14.5.

World of Books website

Selling only second-hand books, it offers a great way to reduce your impact on the planet. “We share the love of reading by finding books new homes so their stories can live on and be enjoyed by more people... This is the magic of the circular-economy.”

Where books have been “loved a little too much”, they are recycled. Every year, the company says that it recycles 80 million books - equivalent to half a million trees - to be made into new products.

The company is also a B-Corp, meaning that it is legally obliged to serve all stakeholders, rather than just shareholders.

Better World Books

As the name suggests, Better World Books not only sells books but also invests in creating a better world. It's a high scorer in our guide to bookshops, with 13.5.

For every book sold on their site they donate to literacy and education programmes around the world. They have a vast collection of new and second hand books available, and also take unwanted stock from libraries.

Screenshot of online bookseller

According to their website they never throw away a book, and recycle books when they can't be re-homed. Every order at BetterWorldBooks.com has the option to be shipped carbon balanced for just a few cents extra.

They have donated over 31 million books, raised over $32 million for literacy  and libraries and reused or recycled
over 386 million books.

Biblio

New in our guide in 2021, Biblio is a high-scorer with 13.

It specialises in second hand and rare books and works with thousands of independent bookstores and booksellers around the world. Together they offer nearly 100 million used and rare books for sale on Biblio.

Screenshot of online bookshop

Biblio is also committed to social and environmental responsibility. It supports education and literacy in communities in need and has built over 15 community libraries in South America, helps small businesses in 50 countries develop and grow their businesses, and offers carbon-offsetting on all orders shipped through their site.

eBooks.com

Ebooks are a great way to cut your environmental impact. However, Amazon dominates this industry with an estimated 67% market share. eBooks.com is our recommended alternative to Amazon with a score of 12 (compared to 0 for Amazon).

Ebooks website

The eBooks.com site includes over 1.7 million ebooks and sells into every country in the world including Antarctica and the International Space Station!

Its ebooks can be read on computer, mobile, and most e-readers (except for Kindle, which locks you into buying books from Amazon).

Oxfam Books

With both physical shops and an online store, Oxfam Books is another great way to buy second hand and is a high scorer in our guide with a score of 12.

Oxfam Books website

Oxfam's online shop has over 60,000 books, including many recent titles, which can be bought online alongside other clothing, home and food gift items. All profits go to Oxfam.

Your local independent bookshop

Arguably the best option for buying new or second hand is to purchase directly through your local independent bookshop, and support their survival on the high street. Many local bookshops will order in titles you want, if they don’t have them in stock, with speedy to-store delivery times.

If you don’t have a bookshop near you, or are looking for something more specific, you could hunt out a radical bookseller. One example is Lighthouse in Edinburgh which is queer-owned, women-led and offers delivery across the UK. Another is News From Nowhere in Liverpool, a similar not-for-profit bookshop and workers' co-operative led by a women's collective.

You can search for your local independent bookshop via a search function on the Booksellers Association website.

Lighthouse bookshop

For more alternatives to Amazon for books, ebooks and audio books, take a look at our guide to ethical bookshops. We rate and score 27 brands, and all of them are better than Amazon and Audible, Book Depository and Abebooks (all of which it also owns).

You may also want to look at the reasons why we recommend people boycott Amazon.