Building Community, One School at a Time

Josie Leavitt - January 31, 2014

Bookstores are known for building community in their towns. They’re often an anchor to the downtown, or village, where they happen to be located. But building community these days, with the internet and folks who are willing to travel, can extend far beyond the county. Sometimes, saying yes can really pay off for everyone.
In December we got an e-mail from an earnest principal at a school an hour and half away, whose nearest bookstore is actually in Canada, about working together. He wanted us to come up to the school and present a booktalk to the teachers on their specific themes with an eye towards ordering books from us. I’ll admit, we approached this somewhat skeptically only because of the distance. But we said we’d love to come to the school.
We spent two weeks pulling the best of the high-low books on the science and history themes the teachers requested. And once again, our coterie of New England booksellers were enormously helpful with title suggestions. We packed up five boxes of books and drove up to the North East Kingdom in a snowstorm, not knowing what to expect.
What we got were 22 very excited teachers who listened attentively to our booktalks  and then dove in to pick out books. We sold books on the spot, letting teachers take the books they wanted, to be invoiced later. Each team had purchase orders and, boy, did they fill them out. We came back to the store with three boxes of books and a cache of orders totaling well over $2000. This was a win-win for everyone involved. The school is in a very isolated part of the state and we are now their link to the book world. We will be sending them galleys as well as keeping them apprised of new books that we think their students would love. We will ship the books up via media mail which is surprisingly inexpensive and very fast in Vermont. Several teachers have made appointments to pick our brains at the bookstore about classroom books.
We are excited about working with this new school and thrilled to be extending the Flying Pig’s reach three counties over. This brand-new relationship all stems from one impossibly young principal reaching out and us saying yes, and that’s how it’s supposed to go.

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