Follow the links to contact each supplier and
investigate their services, terms and conditions
including their distribution area.
Also consider contacting your local bookshops
and working out a deal with them. They may be prepared to work with you on a
Book Shop, South Australia
The Book Warehouse, Albion, Brisbane
Carnival Fairs, NSW
The Children's Bookshop, Beecroft, Sydney
Bulimba, Qld (in-store)
Suppliers, North Gosford, NSW
Ask the company you choose what
support they offer - some will even send a rep out if it's your first time.
If for some reason you choose to
change companies for subsequent fairs, remember this is your right and you
can say no to pushy salespeople. Just do it politely in case you use that
Remember sometimes, such as Children's Book
Week, are very popular so your vendor may not be able to supply you at that
time if you don't book early. Some schools book from year to year to ensure
Combine your Book Fair with another event which brings parents,
grandparents and community members into the school such as
· a family disco
· Grandparents Day
· parent interviews
· Open Day
· Science Fair
· Family Reading Night
Consider having a themed book fair at
a particular time such as Santa's Book Shop or Winter Reads or Welcome
Spring. Or tie it to the Book Week theme.
Bailey, Plumpton Public
Depending on the financial
circumstances of the majority of your parents, hold it in either pay week or
Have it for a defined period of
time - a week is usually long enough for all to buy.
If possible, have the stock arrive a week before
your fair so there is time to set it up and for students to browse,
especially if the books need to be unpacked and displayed.
Set the times students may buy and
advertise these. It may depend on the number of helpers, other school
activities and so forth. Decide whether students will be able to buy during
class times or only during breaks, before and after school. Set times are
better than allowing students to drift in throughout the day, but be flexible
If you have a fixed schedule,
consider allowing students to browse during class times for the week before
the fair, and to purchase during class times the week of the fair. It
relieves a lot of stress and streamlines time.
If students are using a wishlist and
bringing this with money, collect these in the morning, fulfil them during
the day as you have time and distribute just before end-of-school.
Consider a parents' only time
so presents can be bought without children in tow. Have a pre-school morning
tea where parents can come with their pre-schoolers, have a snack, choose a
book and then read it together uninterrupted.
If your fair is in conjunction
with a school event, have it open during the whole event.
Consider a closing ceremony
such as a book character parade.
Know your target
audience and have stock to suit.
The choice of stock is
up to you so negotiate with the rep so they know who the target audience is.
If you school has a particular
ethos that discourages certain types of books, such as the Harry Potter series,
then tell the rep this but it is your responsibility to check stock for
suitability before it is displayed.
Some companies offer non-book items and
you need to decide if you will have these. Because they are cheap, they do
mean that every child can buy something and feel they have participated.
Because they can be tempting for little fingers, consider making a display
board with a sample of each item so children can select but have the stock in
a secure location.
Popular titles will often sell out
quickly so ensure the company you use offers a back-order facility.
Promotion is critical.
Some companies suggest themes and send promotional materials to support these
but you are not obligated to use them.
you have a particular theme for your fair, think of a catchy title for it
and ways that you can decorate
the space to enhance the atmosphere. Children are fascinated
by light and movement and it draws them in. It also shows that you have put
some effort in and it's not just about being a fund-raiser.
This is a collage of shots from
Santa's Book Shop which featured trains going around a tree; Santa at home;
fabric panels on the windows; and a host of other Christmas-themed displays
including Santa's village. The word spread throughout the suburb and even
non-school people came to view and buy.
Look for ways for students to be involved
in the display. These trees were a feature and created when each class was
given an umbrella and challenged to make a tree from it.
Use a themed flier to promote
your book fair and display it everywhere you can well before the event,
including social media.
Decide whether you will have all
sorts of books everywhere so people have to hunt and maybe purchase something
on impulse, or whether you will group
according to age, format, genre or some other way. If you group, consider
signage so groups are easily located.
If you have a theme, consider a
that students can enter with winners drawn and prizes, such as a voucher to
spend at the fair, awarded.
Provide time for students to
browse before the fair opens. Wishlists
allow students to select the items they would like, record their title and
cost and take these home to parents. Buddy older classes with younger ones to
make this easier. Parents can return the form and the money in a sealed
envelope. Collect these at the beginning of the day (usually from younger
students), fill the orders as you have time, and distribute just before home
time for security. If an item has to be back-order have prepared notes to
explain this to parents.
Limit the number of items students can wish for and make sure
they understand that if the parent says "No" then that's OK and
tantrums and sulks are NOT allowed.
Some companies provide wishlist forms but
these are easily made. Avoid blank paper scraps because they get lost in
school bags. Attach the wishlist to a letter of explanation about the fair,
such as this sample
from Judi Nethery. Ensure that it is clear that the wishlist is just that -
parents are not compelled to buy.
Helpers are essential for book fairs - sales and security are
essential and too much for one. Start early and approach potential volunteers
personally so you know who you are asking. Use adults as students may be
intimidated by others to be less-than-honest.
Ensure that parent volunteers are
made aware that anything they learn about other children or families is confidential.
Draw up a roster based on your
selling times and have the volunteers select the times that suit them. Ensure
they are aware of the role they are taking and what it entails. Give each
parent a copy of the roster and their duties. Email them 48 hours before their shift
to remind them of their commitment.
Have an orientation session
so they know the stock and where it is. Encourage them to keep the layout you have
created because young children will often remember the cover of an item and
its location rather than its title or author. Make sure they know about not
selling the last item
and the procedure for noting back-orders.
Only have one person in charge of
the cash register
to avoid mistakes and delays. If you have credit card and EFTPOS facilities
(highly recommended) ensure they know how to operate these.
having an opening
ceremony and invite the local media. Your students assistants
could organise this. Great advocacy.
Ensure you have a reasonable float of small
change and notes - perhaps $100. Ensure credit card and EFTPOS facilties are
working. Insist on only one person operating each cash register. Know whether
receipts have to be given -have a receipt book handy for those who insist on
one for tax purposes - and whether each title has to be recorded as it is
sold. Have procedures in place to streamline the process.
Have plenty of "last item" slips
and place these in the last copy in the pile. Display signs that explain that
the last item cannot be sold but it can be ordered. (Write the name of the
person who wanted the last item on the slip so they can have it at the end of
the fair.) Have clear procedures in place for recording orders and submitting
these at the end of each day of the fair, whichever is offered by your
As the TL, be available to assist
your volunteers and to help your clients to find what they are looking for.
Use your professional knowledge to make recommendations. If you have a theme,
consider dressing up appropriately to be visible.
Bailey, Plumpton Public
Make sure that students know they
need to take responsibility
for what they buy. Unfortunately, theft can be an issue. If possible, have
bags available for students to put their purchases in and name them for
security. Alternatively, use rubber bands and sticky notes If classes comes
as a group, have a tub for purchases that the teacher keeps to distribute
just before home time.
Display a selection of books that
you would like to add to the school's collection - many parents like to make
a donation and having suggestions makes it easier.
At the end of each sales session,
do the paperwork
and secure the money in the school safe. Keep a separate tally of sales
figures so working out your commission is easy.
Be aware and clear about what is
to happen with the commission,
particularly if it is taken in cash. Educational authorities , such as NSW
DEC, may have formal statements about its collection and disbursement;
principals may see it as part of the library's overall budget rather than an
extra; if the P & C has been involved, they may see it as part of their
fund-raising and not return it to the library.
Consider taking it in goods and if
they are superfluous to the collection, use them for awards and prizes or
donate them to a local charity such as a women's refuge.
Even though there are fewer goods,
at the end of the fair can be time-consuming so enlist help. Combine it with
coffee and cake. Be clear on the suppliers' instructions for accountability
Provide all your helpers,
including the office manager who is taking care of the money, with a written
note of thanks,
perhaps even an afternoon tea. You want them back next time.
Celebrate the success of the fair, letting students, staff and
parents know how it has contributed to both the library and the school
community as a whole.
Start planning the next
one - two a year is enough.