I have now been part of school book fairs for 5 years. In that time, I have participated in Main Street Book Fairs, indie bookstore fairs, Scholastic and now Follett.
This year, I made the switch from Scholastic to Follett. After 2 years of dealing with low quality bindings, single-house pub list and tons of junk, I went with Follett this year. I have been pleased thus far with communications, availability of items and quality of bindings.
Before I contacted Follett, I did reach out to two independent bookstores in my area, but they declined to consider a school book fair. During AISL Atlanta 2018, I attended the Librarians, Bookstores, and Community Connections given by the Staff of the Little Shop of Stories and felt well equipped to approach. During this great presentation, they gave suggestions of how to connect with your local bookstore for events. Alas, could not convince my local booksellers of the benefits for all!
Follett solicited me via email in mid-2018 to consider hosting a bookfair in 2019. I had not heard many reviews and figured it would be worth trying at least once. I was able to secure my first choice of dates, and contract was signed. I was really looking forward to offering my students a wide array of new titles as well as not have to deal with boxes of random items ranging from water bottles to tote bags to preschool plastic calendar pointers that came with Scholastic.
- Fall of 2018 Contract signed and sent
- Spring of 2019 First communications around book fair logistics
- August 2019 Reached out to Duval County Public Schools to investigate servant leadership opportunities related to our book fair and proceeds
- August of 2019 First in a series of monthly phone consults with my Follett Book Fair Rep
- September 2019 Began receiving access to online portal for webinars, helpful PDFs, and images
- September 2019 Connected with Parkwood Heights Elementary School: we will aim to provide each of their 304 of elementary school students with a birthday book
- October 2019 Received box of Follett Book Fair promotional materials
- November 1, 2019 10:36am truck arrived
- Delivery driver helped move everything to my second floor library using our service elevator
- 3 parent volunteers arrived at 11am and we were finished setting up by 12:30pm!
- Cash register set-up super easy and I love the Drop Ship and Complete your Series options!
I have developed a system where students visit twice with their class during book fair week. The first visit is a PREVIEW day and the second visit is the PURCHASE day. On Preview Day, students create a wishlist to discuss with their grownups. That way, they can bring home their ideas and feel good about returning for Purchase Day. I remind everyone that purchasing is not ever required, it is just a special bookstore experience within the library.
Servant Leadership is part of our learning experience here at Bolles. There are many ways we accomplish this and the Book Fair is one. The proceeds of our book fair are used to support reading and public school libraries in our area. Last year, we boosted 2 elementary school library collections, and in 2017 we assisted a school in Marathon Key, FL which was partially lost to Hurricane Irma. The Library Media Ambassadors assist in communicating this effort to our student body, as well as go on a field trip to meet and read with students at the schools support. Goal being to support literacy everywhere!
I will leave some comments next week about the overall experience! Feel free to leave questions in the comments section below!
Three Cheers for Lower School Book Fairs!
November 15 Debrief:
Our November Follett Book Fair – despite all the negative experiences I have heard about – was really well executed. The EXCELLENT book selection, high quality of materials, strong communication with my rep, and fast delivery of items ordered that were sold out. Fair drop off was at 10:30am the Friday before and pick up was around 9:30am the Monday after. Set up was 45 minutes with 2 volunteers on hand. Take down was the same. The portal for learning (how-to videos, PDFs for advertising, author videos) was accessible, though I gave many development suggestions. My volunteers commented how much “easier” the register system was to use and how nice it was not to have to sort and store JUNK. The pens, erasers, bookmarks and journals that did come with the fair were good quality and really well curated. I have booked my fair for next year!