6 Book Fair Tricks to Amaze and Astound!

Setting the stage …

Imagine, if you will, a tropical island. Miles from the nearest major landmass, your closest layover is a 6-hour plane ride away. It’s a land of rainbows, waterfalls, $8 gallons of milk, 45mph speed limit signs on the freeway, and shipping costs that often are more than the price of the items ordered.

I paint this picture for a bit of context (not necessarily for your pity, just your understanding, lol). I’m really excited to share these book fair tips and tricks, but I’m afraid that once readers see the word “Scholastic” before “Book Fair”, they might not keep reading. You know how Costco carries one million jars of peanut butter, but it’s Skippy and ONLY Skippy? That’s Hawai’i. We don’t have a myriad of local (or even chain) bookstores with whom we might partner, Literati and others don’t operate here, so … my blog post is about the little tricks I’ve worked into my book fairs, and if you happen to see the “S” word anywhere, it’s because that’s what we’ve got to work with. The show must go on! 🙂

Gaze into the future!

Do you or your volunteers put up posters around campus? Make a checklist of locations so you know where to go to take them down after the Fair! This is also handy if you’re entrusting the work to others: the power is yours to make sure your advertisements go where you want them to be seen.

Where’d we put those posters? Student volunteers took their “signage maps” with them as they put up posters around campus, labeling each location. We kept these in the “DO NOT LOSE” folder until the Fair was closed

Seek and find!

If your Fair comes with flyers of advertised titles, chances are your patrons are going to be looking for those specific books. Set aside a few flyers for yourself and your volunteers, and once your Fair is set up, write down the location of every advertised book on those flyers. Numbering book trucks and carts (1L = cart 1, left side) and naming tables (LEGO table) make it easy to help patrons find what they seek.

“Where is Heroes?” Student volunteers labeled extra flyers with shelf locations (“5R” = Shelf #5, on the right) to help patrons find advertised titles

Disappearing act!

When those advertised titles are sold out, I have a precious few days during which I can order more. A little signage where the book used to be will not only help you/volunteers know where to shelve restocks, but also lets patrons know that they can still buy the book if they want (pre-paid titles are set aside and delivered once the restock order arrives). 

Even if you don’t have flyers with the book covers, simple Post-It notes in the spaces where titles once were shelved will help patrons and volunteers know what’s sold out, and which titles – if any – can be ordered

Prest-o, change-o!

This trick is sneaky, but sometimes we gotta bend the rules by which we must play. At our school, elementary students are not allowed to check out manga (#SuperSadSigh), but if those titles are advertised to our older kiddos, who am I to keep Naruto off-limits? Using a book truck to display those titles that maybe aren’t for a certain class means the books can still be accessed, but with a turn of those wheels, the shelf – gasp! – disappears! And it’s like they were never there. #EvilLaugh

Pick a poster, any poster!

You know … there was a Taylor Swift poster at one of my first Book Fairs (2013?), and now she’s on a Golden Book. That sure is something.

Anyway, if posters are a favored feature at your Fair, it can be a struggle to display them. Rather than have a horde of children rifling through a single box, we tape up the posters around the room (one of each design if wall-space allows, using painter’s tape) and include a numbered Post-It on each. The box of posters stays behind the cashier desk so patrons can “order” their poster while in line (“Can I get poster number 3?”). Similar Post-Its are stuck on the matching posters in the box so we can find ‘em, scan ‘em, and roll ‘em up!

Games galore!

For our class visits (our preschool – 6th grade classes schedule times to visit, but anyone on campus can come whenever they want) and after school crowd, having a few simple guessing games – with prizes*! – will add a bit of fun to your store. This year our 6th graders came up with Book Pong: students toss rolled-up bits of flyers into cups prepared with dots, and depending on the dot, that determined their prize. Don’t have time to collect cups and dots and make skee balls out of book fair flyers? My “oh-my-gosh-I-forgot-to-prep-a-game” game is this: Collect a few titles from the Fair, tie them in a stack, and let your patrons guess how many pages are in the pile. It’s math! *If your Fair comes with crap – I mean, treasures – and if your funds allow, use those crystal pens and llama erasers as your prizes. Everything you need for a bit of carnival fun is at your fingertips.

Let the Fair be the game and the prize!

Et voilà!

I would love to know of any tips/tricks/games y’all incorporate into your Book Fairs (“S” word or otherwise). I sure hope these help. Thanks for reading!

5 thoughts on “6 Book Fair Tricks to Amaze and Astound!

  1. Love this post – thanks, Nicole! Other suggestions:
    – Think about taxes beforehand. I saw a great post on IG from @lacey_librarian (she has so many great resources – check out her ‘BOOK FAIR’ posts/collection) who places a post-it with the book price + tax by every book so students know exactly how much they are spending.
    – Keep a jar filled with coins at the checkout area, so students can use a couple of extra cents if their purchase is just over the amount they have to spend.

    • Oh my goodness, yes – the “leave a penny, take a penny” cups at the registers are spirit-savers! (Though over the course of the Fair it’s more like “leave nothing, take $4”.) 🙂

  2. Thanks Nicole! We have a system to let students charge books to their school accounts, so parents fill out a form with a budget for their kid and then we don’t have to deal with as much cash during the fair. The form also has a spot where parents can specify whether their child is allowed to buy non-book things. We put all of those “treasures” behind the desk and then have samples taped to a poster board so that students can see what’s available but don’t spend all their time playing with said “treasures,” similar to the poster hack Nicole mentioned.

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