Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2012 Issue

B-corps for Booksellers? New structure has some obvious and not so obvious advantages

B corp graph 2009 csci monitor

B corps were fast growing in 2009, and have grown another 70% since.

AE readers first learned about B (for benefits) corporations in 2010 when we visited the warehouse facilities of Better World Books of Mishawaka, Indiana. The rapidly expanding high volume bookseller and book-recycler was an early adopter of this hybrid format. Founded in 2002 the company used the “benefits corporation” framework to acquire its inventory at little or no cost and, at the same time - by pledging a portion of its profits to literacy goals - support a larger social agenda. (www.betterworldbooks.com)

Two years ago our readers had mixed reaction to the company and its business practices. Some applauded the effort to do well by doing good. Others were more than a little skeptical of the model, which they saw as a way to undercut traditional booksellers and openly scoffed at the company’s self-laudatory motto “An online bookstore with a soul.”

What most probably did not fully understand at the time was that B corporations are a new and fast growing business structure that might be applicable to other facets of the book trade, both new and antiquarian, and might be worth a closer look.

Now in 2012 the business press is reporting that, with changing times and a changing social agenda, more and more companies are choosing this form of “social entrepreneurship.” An increasing number of states have passed or are passing legislation that not only allows, but supports and encourages, this structure.

On January 19, 2012 the Wall Street Journal took a closer look at these hybrid entities. According the WSJ, a B corporation is a company whose charter allows the board to consider social or environmental objectives ahead of profits. This does not make a B corporation a non-profit entity, nor does it exempt it from taxes. But it does protect the management from investor allegations of not maximizing shareholder value.

The enabling legislation requires the social and environmental goals of a benefits corporation to be laid out in the by-laws and the company must publish an annual report to measure itself against those goals.

The report said there are seven states that presently allow benefits corporations (Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey, Virginia, Hawaii, California and New York); there are four states where legislation is pending (Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan).

When the law took effect in California on Jan. 1 of this year, Patagonia, a high profile sportswear and outdoor gear companies (which has long advocated environmental activism) was first in the line to convert to the new corporate structure. (See coverage in the Economist, Jan 5, 2012 www.economist.com/node/21542432)


Posted On: 2012-02-01 00:00
User Name: unclebooks

These companies have a better PR then the actual benefit they offer to Libraries. Our Friends group gave them more than 250 boxes of books, t


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions