– a page for people who sell books in schools
Summer – no-one in the bookshop except perhaps the occasional hopeless print addict who even in blazing sunshine comes to read another chapter of a book he can’t afford to buy. What to do? Close up? Give up? Walk around the playground selling books like ice-creams?
Even if that isn’t your particular experience of summer book-selling there are always times throughout the year when we wonder if it’s all worth it.
There’s nothing like having a good moan to make you feel better, and a trouble shared is a trouble halved (they say); so here are a few cries from the heart. We bet you will identify with at least one.
* I find it hard work. We have no permanent ‘home’ and have to set up from scratch and completely clear away each time. (We open for 30 minutes, twice a week at lunchtime.) This undoubtedly puts off otherwise willing helpers and takes time. With no permanent site and publicity spot we can be forgotten. We also have to compete with all the other lunchtime school activities – nothing happens after school. Most of all it’s time consuming to select and order stock – I do it at home usually. There is no parent involvement largely because there is a school reluctance to involve parents in what is considered a teaching area. (Girls Grammar)
* Turnover makes it barely worth keeping on. Sales always reflect promotion campaigns and as I do library, drama and 0 and A teaching I never have enough time. I wish there was more ready made promotion material of the right sort available. (Mixed Comprehensive)
* Getting to know the right books to have in a small stock is not easy. My stock is limited by space and finance. Getting to stimulate children’s and parents’ interest to buy is also a problem. (Village Infant and Junior)
* The bookshop is used a lot by 1st and 2nd years – few seniors come near us. (Mixed Comprehensive)
Has anyone any help or consolation to offer? This is your page. Tell us what you think.
Meanwhile here are some ideas from around and about that might help you out of the summer doldrums.
* Go out with a bang with a big Holiday Reading promotion at the end of term. Try to keep open all day and persuade class teachers or English teachers to bring the kids in in lesson time. (They’ll probably be delighted not to have to think of something to do.) There will be less chance of a generally chaotic free-for-all if you do a bit of planning. Start each session by talking about your latest titles or your hottest sellers; get some of the customers to recommend books. Be ready to take orders, reserve books for those who haven’t money with them.
* Try some mini-promotions on likely themes: horse books, love stories, cricket, fishing, graffiti. Get some stalwart helpers (you must have one or two) to put notices all around the school (write on blackboards?) like ‘Love in the Bookshop today’ or ‘Horses in the Bookshop today’. Well it might work – you’ll never know unless you try.
* And selling books like ice-cream might not be as mad as it sounds. If they won’t come to you… Try getting some supporters to read from joke books. You’ll soon have a crowd.
In April Maggy Doyle (Piccolo’s enterprising publicity person) sent copies of Football Crazy to managers of all the clubs in the Football League. She suggested they might like to run a competition for young supporters based on football or Football Crazy. Why not try something similar for your young supporters at World Cup time – backed up with a special display of football books (fact and fiction) in the bookshop? See Books for Keeps No.13 for a useful list. Perhaps a list of questions about football (with a ‘write a football books slogan’ as a tie-breaker), or a quiz between two teams of football fans, or a Football Mastermind organised by the bookshop.
For younger children Maggy offered an outline drawing of one of the illustrations in Football Crazy for a colouring competition. She will very kindly send a copy of this 5″ x 4″ illustration to any school which would like to run a competition. Colin McNaughton has given permission for his drawing to be used in this way so you can duplicate or make copies without fear of infringing copyright. If you don’t like the idea of colouring, ask the kids to draw a new member of Bruno’s football team.
(Write to Maggy Doyle at Pan Books, Cavaye Place, London SW10 9PG. Offer only available while stocks last!)
Ready… Steady… for 2-9 October
The count-down for Children’s Book Week ’82 continues. If you are on the CBW mailing list you will already have received your copy of the excellent Hints for Organisers, sample publicity pack and details of the Design a Postage Stamp Competition – all in this year’s colour, bright green.
If you are not on the list but are considering making even the smallest noise about books in that week, do write to Maggi Turfrey for your own copy of Hints for Organisers – it’s packed with good ideas and advice. And don’t think you have to go in for expensive author visits or elaborate events to be effective. Quite often it’s the simple things that make the most impact on children – for instance turning parents, teachers or children into celebrities for an ‘Interest’ afternoon. They may be delighted to reveal their hidden talents and hobbies! Supported by the appropriate books.
But you’ll have to get moving – the deadline for ordering posters, stickers, balloons, etc. land also for being on next year’s mailing list) is 23 July. Author visits will all be fixed by the end of June (contact CBW, Centre for Children’s Books, 45 East Hill, London SW18, for the up-to-date position in your area).
If you’ve got an event planned, do tell Maggi Turfrey about it (before the end of July) so that it can be added to the complete list of events the Book Marketing Council will be using for national publicity. You can contact Maggi by writing to CBW ’82, BMC, The Publishers Association, 19 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3BR.
Advance News of June Paperbacks
From Armada, Mill Green on Fire, the first in a new series by Alison Prince about a rural comprehensive school. Could this be another ‘Grange Hill’ success story?
The Trebizon series is already well-established. Fans of that particular Cornish educational fantasy will doubtless be queuing up for No. 7, Summer Camp at Trebizon (Dragon).
For ballet lovers stock up with Ballet Stories (Carousel), a selection of short stories by Ian Woodward. There’s also a Judy Blume – Iggie’s House (Piccolo), a Betsy Byars – Goodbye, Chicken Little (Puffin) and a guaranteed-to-grab-all-females love story, Jean Ure’s See You Thursday (Puffin Plus).
Fans of Nicholas Fisk can look forward to Antigrav (Puffin).
If you have bright ideas for selling books, send them to Sales Point and share them with other school booksellers.