Publishers As Partners In Literacy

By David Bornstein

This week, I reported on the First Book Marketplace, which sells new books at steep discounts to schools and reading programs serving low-income children. Based on sales growth, First Book, which is a nonprofit, anticipates that the marketplace will be financially self-sustaining within a few years. It’s hard to find fault with a social-purpose business that makes quality books more affordable for underprivileged children. But, surprisingly, many readers responded to the idea by suggesting that the problem of book access can be adequately addressed through rummage sales, thrift shops, used book outlets and libraries. This reflects a misunderstanding of the problem, which I’d like to clarify.

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