We had a book fair that made money and I didn’t have to do anything! I was stunned. The key to this book fair was having it in the store.
A book fair involves my staff, usually me, ordering, receiving and packing up a shocking number of boxes and hauling them to the school. Then we would help the PTO volunteers unpack, inventory and set-up the book fair. Then for two and a half days if teachers remembered or felt they could give up a class period kids would stroll in and buy or not buy books. Sometimes the kids had money, more often than not they didn’t. We’d have enormous hold stacks that would hopefully get purchased by the end of each day. We tended to compete with a used book fair running on the opposite side of the gym. This is not a set-up I recommend, but one we could not avoid at our school as both book fairs had run concurrently for decades. Trying to sell a $15 hardcover is hard enough to do on a good day, but when you can buy a bag of books for $1.50, you don’t really stand a chance.
An in-store book fair involves nothing on my part but making sure I’ve got the hot books in stock. We run our in-store book fairs from a weekend to a weekend. I think this really allows the greatest visibility for the fair and makes reordering easy. Also, working parents stand a better chance of making it in the store if they’ve got two weekends to come in. The real beauty of having parents and kids come to the store is they come to the store. And once in the store they realize how much stock we’ve got for all ages. I sold $36 of cards to someone last night–this is most assuredly a sale that would not have happened at the school.
The key to a really successful in-store book fair is promoting at the school level and also at the store. Staffers need to have their speech down pat for customers so they can quickly state what’s going and who will benefit. We also had ample signage throughout the store, so folks knew what was going on and what school was benefiting.
As the book fair wound down, I realized that my workload had not increased because I had no boxes of books to check back in. There were no massive returns to do or hours of reshelving. All I had to do was run a report, which happily showed we took in more money this year than we did last year, and then write a check to the library that would then come spend with us on books.
All in all, a great win-win.