A Summer Reading Plea

March 18, 2012 at 9:40 am (General) (, , )

I know, I know, no one who has anything to do with Summer Reading wants to hear about it before most of the schools have even had Spring Break, but those lists are coming out soon, and whether you’re a teacher, a parent, or a student, I have something very important to ask you.

As soon as you make/get those lists, PLEASE let your bookstores know!

I’m going to assume that most bookstores are like mine in that we try desperately to get those lists before school gets out, and we try to get all the lists. It’s not because we’re trying to ruin kids’ summers with reminders of the homework they have to do. If we can get all of the lists, and if we can get them early, we can order the books in and have them sitting on a pretty Summer Reading shelf.

Know what that means?

It means no desperately ordering it from three different bookstores three days before classes start trying to get books.

It means no running around to three different bookstores trying to find all the books on the list before you go on vacation.

And, something we see more than you’d think: it means that if the teacher has assigned an out of print or print on demand book, he or she can be notified before school lets out, when there’s still a chance of either changing the assignment or making other arrangements.

When we have those lists, we make multiple copies so we can have them behind our registers with all the summer reading books- so even if you forget the list at home or have lost it, we can look up exactly which books your child needs (or that you need, if you’re the student). When we have those lists, we can replenish our supply regularly. Does it mean we won’t ever run out? No, because it does take time for the books to arrive from the warehouse and we might sell out in the meantime, but it does mean you shouldn’t ever have to wait more than a couple of days.

When we get those lists, we also go through to check for ebook availability and pricing, and we keeps track of those.

I know it’s only the middle of March, but most of those lists are going to start making their way into the world in six weeks. You don’t even have to make a trip to the bookstore to let us know. You can call us and read off the list. You can email it to us. You can fax it to us. You can stick it in an envelope and mail it to us.

Because here’s the selfish part: it isn’t just that this makes it awfully convenient for everyone running around trying to find the books. It makes life a LOT easier on the booksellers. When we have those books, we get yelled at a lot less.

And yes, people actually yell at booksellers for being sold out of a book. Crazy, right?

If we’re able to notify a teacher that an assigned book is out of print and that teacher passes that along to the students and parents, we don’t get the people accusing us of being lazy when we say that the title is out of print. Yes, there are teachers who assign out of print books, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose. It happens. I can tell you how to look for the book at that point, but I can’t actually get it for you.

Every year we send out emails and faxes to every single school in our district. With all the individual teachers and classes, that should amount to several hundred lists. We generally get back a little over a dozen. Through personal contacts- i.e. friends or neighbors that have children in school- we usually manage to get another five or ten. Granted, there’s some degree of overlap across high schools, for instance, but there are a lot of unique assignments as well.

So do yourselves, and your favorite local booksellers, a HUGE favor and take a minute or two to send them the lists when you make or get them. We’ll get the books in, find any problems with acquiring them, and everyone gets to be a little happier over the summer.

Until next time~

1 Comment

  1. Shelver506 said,

    Yes, yes, 100% yes! I can’t tell you how many times a parent has been soooo upset that we didn’t have a book like Holes or Where the Red Fern Grows in stock.

    “Why don’t you have it?! It’s a classic and we need it TONIGHT!”

    “Uhhhh, because literally nearly every parent in your kid’s class has come through asking for the same exact book, and without advance notice we only keep three or four copies in stock?”

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