Making the most of your BOOK FAIR

I have just held my fourth Scholastic Book Fair and WOW! What a success! We are a K-6 school and have around 420 students. We sold just shy of $6700 at this last Fair which blitzed last year’s sales total by over $800! My consultant is continually surprised with our sales and is always asking “So, what are you doing to get such good numbers?”

At first my response was “Um, I don’t know…” But after discovering that not every school is making such good numbers, I really got thinking seriously about the answer. Is it all just about decking the library out with amazing decorations? Definitely not. This year’s Fair proved that! My last two Fairs, I went all out. Our library got slimed for the Story Laboratory Book Fair and during last year’s Book Fair Garden, our library reminded me of Mr McGregor’s garden. Sadly, this year I had a lot going on outside of school and so didn’t have the time to decorate. So sure, the decorations elicit some oohs and aahs, but I’m positive they don’t result in more sales.

I think it’s important to focus on the Fair BEFORE it actually gets delivered. And it doesn’t take a lot of effort to promote it. I usually put a little snippet in the school newsletter for the few weeks leading up to the Fair and it gets mentioned at the school assembly. You could even get some of the older students to do this…perhaps they could create a little skit. That should generate some excitement.

During the week leading up to Book Fair, I always promote the titles that will be coming. I show the Book Talks that are found in your Book Fair Online page. You can also ask your consultant to send you out the Book Talk pack. This consists of a box of books that will be included in your Book Fair. You can use them to show the students and allow them to have a closer look. They then just get added to the Book Fair when it arrives. I received this for the first time this year and it complemented the the Book Talk videos nicely. I also gave the students the catalogue to browse and get excited over all the inclusions. While you’re doing all this, find out which books the kids are most excited about. Ask your consultant to include extra copies of the most popular titles to minimise reorders (and no doubt boost the sales as some families may be reluctant to reorder).

Signage will also help to promote your Book Fair. I’m very lucky that our school’s library is smack bang in the middle of the school. This no doubt brings in people passing through the school who realise something interesting is happening in the library. But I still make sure I put up all the posters provided by Scholastic and enlist the help of the students to create a huge sign for the front of the library. I give students an A3 sheet of card and a letter that I want them to create. These are then used to create a slogan to promote the Book Fair. It ends up looking really effective and the students feel ownership over it too. For the Story Laboratory Book Fair, our slogan read “COME AND GET SLIMED AT THE BOOK FAIR!” and for the Book Fair Garden our sign read “CATCH THE READING BUG AT OUR BOOK FAIR GARDEN!”

Our 2013 Story Laboratory Fair was the first time I ran the Classroom Wish List program. Not having run it before, I had no idea how it was going to be received. But by pumping it up during the Fair, I managed to boost sales by over $500. Donations increased the following year and at our most recent Fair, we had a total of 100 books donated to classrooms which brought in $1380 worth of sales! Our P & F got on board this year, spending over $500 and donating two books to every classroom. You can also ask your consultant to send out the Classroom Wish List kit which includes a poster on which to attach envelopes for your classes, photocopiable donation slips and book plate stickers to insert into the donated books. I ran the program twice using only the resources on the Book Fair Online page and, trust me, it’s much less work with the Scholastic kit!

If you do something different and interesting in order to boost sales at your Book Fair, mention it in the comments below for the benefit of all.

Good luck with your Book Fair and thanks for reading! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Making the most of your BOOK FAIR

  1. Sia Fazzalari

    I have been doing Book Fairs for may years and the main contributing factor to success is to couple the fair with an existing event. We always have our Book Fair on Parent Open Night, when we have a ‘captive audience’. I work at two schools and it is always a huge success and has become a ‘tradition; in both schools. Parents come to view their chldren’s classroom and then visit the library. I can’t imagine what the parents would do on Open Night if there wasn’t a fair. I always start the fair at least half hour prior to classrooms opening, which helps alleviate long queues. Students do all the advertising/announcements. Highly recommend hiring Clifford or Geronimo Stilton costumes from Scholastic and asking a senior students or teacher to dress up and go to classroons and ‘announce’ the Book Fair. The littlies love it!! I often [not always] do a ‘Buy one get one free fair’ for the parents at the end of the year. This is a one day only fair for parents to take advantage of and buy Christmas presents. It is not a fund raiser for the school;the school does not benefit financially at all. It’s a “Thank you Fair” for the parents for all their support throughout the year. Sia

    Reply
      1. Sia Fazzalari

        Hi again,
        ‘Buy one get one free’ is quite easy to manage. Parents are a little uncertain the first time, but from the following year it gets busier. I close the library on a day that suits most and being so close to Christmas teachers and students are busy with other things. Parents can come anytime during the day to purchase including before and after school. Often I ‘hide’ purchases until a more suitable pick-up time. Scholastic do not include novelty trays in the selection; only books in cases. So easy to just open up on the morning of the fair. I advertise in the newsletter a few weeks beforehand and a notice outside the library- no big fuss. I don’t promote via the students at all. Kettle is on, biscuits always available and parents wander in the library any time they please and have browse or purchase for thier children. I found the hardest thing to do [initially] is to convince the parents that it’s for them, not to donate for the school. Easiest and most rewardng ‘Thank you’ to put on for your parents. I recommend it 🙂

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