Every year I have many of the same questions being asked about the book fair; so I thought I would try to do a Q&A about what happens during book fair, and the logistics of the book fair.
Why Scholastic? Why not an independent bookstore?
I have found over the years that Scholastic gives me the biggest bang for my buck. This year our percentage of the total, including books that we bought from them, was 35%. No other business gives us the same percentage. In general, independent bookstores give us 20-25 percent of the total profit back. Often they want to give us that profit in books only from their store. With the cash I can order the nonfiction titles needed to support the school curriculum. Many of the books we need for the library are from particular publishers and are harder to get. This way I can also order them with the cataloging records needed so that they are ready use.
How much did we make?
Usually we make around $1,400.00 cash in profit from book fair. We take additional profit from book fair in books for the library as well as books for children who can’t afford them. Last year we gave away over 80 books to children who would not have been able to purchase books for themselves. They are given a ticket to spend so that they can have the fun of choosing books.
Why so many toys?
I am conflicted about the toys myself. Many times, the more breakable and expensive toys are not put out. Unfortunately not all children have the money to purchase a book. The pencils and erasers and the bookmarks are all that some children can purchase. Scholastic does have a few bargain books that are under $3.50. I want all students to be able to participate, even if they only have a couple quarters. To stretch those few cents further, we also cover the added cost of tax for the children who haven’t figured tax into the cost of the book. Private book vendors and bookstores rarely have anything that inexpensive. Generally books start at $6.00 for a paperback.
I do try to plan a book give away event close to the book fair. We have Book Exchange which allows for students to trade books and again, we give away books to children who would not be able to get books as well. Some years we have enough books to give away a book to every child in the school. I try to plan this event right before a break so kids have lots of books to read during their holiday time.
What do you do with the money?
About a third of my budget for the library comes from the book fair. I use the cash to build the library collection so that children can find books on the shelf that they want to read and/or that are needed for classroom assignments.
Children are very excited when the book fair comes. Many times this is the first time they have handled money on their own. We try to “gently guide” them toward wise choices. If they made a mistake and have to bring their items back that’s ok. We take returns. If they are tempted by items that they regret, we try to work with them and let them bring them back and exchange them for better choices. Book fair is, hopefully, a safe place in which to learn.