Having a Book Sale at Your Library (Handout)


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Handout for a panel presentation about how to have a successful book sale. Presented at GaCOMO12 by Gordon Baker and Jennifer Duke.

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Having a Book Sale at Your Library (Handout)

  1. 1. Having A Book Sale At Your LibraryDr. Gordon Baker, Jennifer Duke TIPS TO THE BEST BOOK SALE EVER!Before:  Check your collection development policy. (Are you free to use donations for sale?)  Make a plan. How will the funds be used? Who will work the sale? Where can it be held? Who will do the prep/take down? How will the unsold books be handled? What do you want to sell (only books or crafts, CDs, movies, etc.)?  _______________________________________________  _______________________________________________Location:  Comfortable, happy people buy more.  Think about traffic flow and security.  Think about how much space is needed.  Locate a place indoors or secure several tents in case of bad weather.  Keep aisles wide for browsers to feel comfortable  Consider playing soft music  Consider partnering with a group  Consider having the sale at a local community event.  ____________________________________________  ____________________________________________  ____________________________________________People (who need people):  book movers, book sorters, advertising people, cashiers, book straighteners… doyou see where this is going?  _____________________________________________Get it organized.  What will you need: tables? Chairs? Change? Cash box? Calculators? Paper, pencils?  ______________________________________________  ______________________________________________Pricing:  Be consistent.  Consider discounting on later days.  Post a price list.  Price all things in the sale, don’t make them ask.  _____________________________________  _____________________________________  _____________________________________  _____________________________________
  2. 2. Customer Services:  Have bags and boxes available for buyers.  Be ready with change and calculator.  Offer to hold items but be sure to label these bundles.  __________________________________________  __________________________________________  __________________________________________Advertising Ideas  _________________________________________  _________________________________________  _________________________________________“Ploys” or Ideas to Sweeten the Deal for People  Sorting party for volunteers: everyone gets first pick of a free book!  Tax letter for donations.  Reduced fines for donations.  Bag day (like in the video).  ________________________________________  ________________________________________  ________________________________________Opening the doors. Remain calm. Mistakes happen. It’s a book sale. Make it right, take note for next year andmove on.  _________________________________________After it’s over. Breathe… and then start on next year’s book sale.  ______________________________________________  And, most importantly, thank everyone including your volunteers, your staff and the buyers.More notes:
  3. 3. How to run a Nonprofit Used Book SaleThis is a guide that will help nonprofit organizations coordinate, organize, and run a used book saleGuide to Non Profit Book Sales… see the whole document at: www.booksalemanager.com/nonprofit-used-book-sale-guide.aspxObtaining items to sellDonationsSetting guidelines to what items you will and will not accept is the first step to a successful sale. Many organizationsset these guidelines to help prevent spending hours sorting and displaying unsellable items. Some common items thatare requested NOT to be donated are:o Reader’s Digest condensed bookso Encyclopedias, Textbooks, Computer books, Medical books over 5 or 10 years oldo Magazines older than 1-2 years oldo Romance Paperbackso Water damaged books or books with mildewo Promotional itemso Books without coversAlso setting guide lines on what you will accept may help people know what they can donate. For example, peoplewho are donating may not know your organization will also be selling CD’s and DVD’s and may not them. Somecommon items that are requested for donation are:o Encyclopedias, Textbooks, Computer books, Medical books published within the 5 yearso Puzzles and computer gameso CD’s, LP’s, Cassette tapeso DVD’s and VHS tapeso Magazines published in the last yearo Audio Bookso Art prints/posterso Children’s bookso Nonfiction/fiction books of all kindsAdvertising for donationsMaking a flyer to post around your organization, local libraries, churches etc will help bring awareness that yourorganization is collecting. It is also a good time to add on your flyer on when your sale will be held (if it’s known) oradd a phase such as: watch our website for more information on the date, or look out for our next flyer.Another important item that should be specified is where to donate the books. It is also helpful to put contactinformation on the flyers and request anyone donating a large number of books to contact your organization ahead oftime. This would allow you to know if help will be needed to move the donations to the storage area.Incentives to receive donationsIn order to try to incentivize donations, some libraries have offered free book coupons. To prevent a system such asthis from being abused, it would help to set a specific guideline along the lines of 1 free book coupon for every 25books that fit the donation guidelines. This system does have a couple downsides. It cannot be used for book drop offboxes, and may require more work by those accepting your donations. One solution to this would be to give out thecoupons on the days of the sale for anyone who brings in a donation on the first day. There are many ways to alterthis type of promotion and it really depends on how your sale is set up.Other promotional offers can be used to encourage donations. Another popular route is to team up with localbusinesses who may want to offer coupons or other incentives. For example, your local diner or restaurant can offer
  4. 4. free Ice cream coupons. Many businesses have established policies to help local non-profit organizations in theircommunities. It never hurts to ask.A final important policy is to clarify if the donations qualify to be tax deductible. If they do, it would be helpful to havea preprinted receipt/form for those who donate. Advertising the ability to let donations qualify, may help you receivemore donations.Donation BoxesAnother way to collect books is to make donation boxes around your library, school, church etc. This allows you tocollect donations without having a person present 100% of the time, but does leave your donations open to theft.OrganizationWhy do you organize books?Organizing books help streamline your sale by giving people the ability to head to areas of interest. Simply put, theeasier it is for the customer to fine what they are looking for, the more they will buy. Organizing your books can be assimple as fiction and nonfiction or as complex as 20+ categories. Remember though, the more categories you have,the easier it is for book buyers to find the books they are looking for (which again will result in more sales).Sorting books into categories takes volunteer time and expertise. The more complex your system, the more time andexpertise you will need. Therefore it is important to understand the number of volunteers you have, the amount ofbooks you anticipate, and the ability of your volunteers to accurately separate books.Organizing before the saleOrganizing as donations come in will help avoid a lot of work right before the sale. If your storage area is small, youcan section off books into boxes/bags of the various categories you plan to use. Close them up once it is full of acategory, mark the box, and stack the sorted books to clear room for more donations. Also organizing allows you toset the books up in boxes with spine up. This would allow easy set up time before the sale since the books are readyto be sold.Some commonly used categories are as follows:o Arts & Photographyo Audio Bookso Business & Investingo Children’s Bookso Comics & Graphic Novelso Computers & Interneto Cooking, Food, & Wineo Crafts & Hobbieso Entertainmento Heath, Mind, & Bodyo Historyo Home & Gardeno Literature & Fictiono Memoirs & Biographieso Mystery & Thrillerso Nonfictiono Outdoors & Natureo Parents & Familyo Politicso Professional & Technicalo Puzzles & Gameso Referenceo Religion & Spiritualityo Romanceo Scienceo Science Fiction & Fantasyo Self Help
  5. 5. o Sportso Teenso Textbookso TravelOrganization at the saleAt the sale it is very helpful to place signs for the category in the area. Signs allow buyers browse easier than tryingto guess where the categories start and end. If possible a map of the room would help buyers locate the books theyare looking for but these are mainly useful for larger sales.For your convenience, we have a file download with category flyers for the categories bulleted in the Organizingbefore the sale section. They are located on the seller dashboard.PricingThe most important thing about pricing is to be consistent. Either have set prices for hardbacks/paperback/children’sor price each one in the same place. Not being consistent on how items are price can cause confusion and delay yourcheckout line.There are two methods of pricing, one is set prices based on type and the other is pricing items individually. There arealso several other pricing exceptions for the first night and bag sales.AdvertisingBundled advertisementHolding the sale during a community event such as a fair, or town garage sale, will help bring people to your salewithout a lot of advertising on your part. These events also bring in out of town customers and allow your sale to beexposed to a wider range of people.OnlineAdvertising your sale on your organizations website will help spread the word of your sale without any cost. Alsoconsider listing your sale on Booksalemanager.com. You will reach many book lovers across the nation and our sitesends out a notification to the people registered in your immediate area. Basic listings are FREE on our site.In return we ask if you could link to us on your site, post one of our flyers at your sale or ask for an advertisingpackage from us that contain a couple color flyers and bookmarks to give out at your sale.FlyersNice colored flyers can cost money to print, but simple black and white ones can be printed for pennies. These flyerscan be posted around your local libraries, community centers, grocery stores, school etc. that will allow you to postthem. This is a cheap efficient way to promote your sale and also a way to ask for donations on the same flyer.Lawn signs and BannersLawn signs and or banners outside the location of the sale will draw attention to the sale. Putting these up a week ortwo before hand will serve as a reminder as people drive buy on the days before the sale.Newspapers and NewslettersPurchasing advertisement spots in local newspapers or newsletters, or submitting an article will also help bringawareness to your sale. This is a great way to reach a broader range of people in your community.Contact members
  6. 6. If you have a member list of your organization, it would be a good idea to send them a reminder of the upcomingsale. If these members purchase a membership at your last sale, chances are they will want to attend your upcomingsale again.Sale DayPlanning ahead of time for the sale day can help prevent delays, extra work, and provide a more efficient fundraiser.The following are a couple topics to considerScheduleSetting up a schedule helps volunteers know when to arrive and what time they will be needed. The first day (and firstcouple hours) will most likely be your busiest. Also bag days or the first couple hours of your half price days will alsobe rather busy. It is a good idea to schedule more workers at these times.Extra boxes and bagsWhile some people may bring their own boxes and bag, there will be customers without their own. It is a good idea tohave extra bags and boxes on hand to help customers carry their books home.Check out linesThe first night is a good night to have a separate line for big orders. This helps out not only those ordering a lot ofbooks but also those who are purchasing 1-2 books. Bigger orders may need more than one volunteer to help tally theorder, while another unloads and loads boxes.It also may speed out check out to have tally tables and only 1 (or 2 depending on sale size) cashiers. The tally tablescan count up the cost of the items the person is purchasing and from there they can file into 1 pay line.TallysheetsTally sheets help the volunteers add up the cost of the books. For your convenience, we have a file download withsample tally sheets. They are located on the seller dashboard.Tab tablesAnother solution to avoid purchasers of many books from checking out/paying many times is to have a tab table. Thiswould be a table where the tally sheets would be collected and held (with the buyers drivers license) until the buyer isready to check out. This gives you their information with a form of ID they will not skip out on to avoid paying a bill.This method helps clear congestion in the lines and allows them to make one big purchase at the end.Book holding areasIf your sale is big enough to have people purchasing 100’s of books you may want to contemplate a holding area: Aplace where people can place books with their name to be purchased when they are ready to check out. Specify thatthey must purchase these books and not go through them later (to avoid a big mess of rejected books).Book DealersBook dealers will travel long distances to attend book sales. They tend to purchase many books, and will be in linehours before the sale starts. There are several things to consider while planning the sale to help keep the sale runningsmoothly while still receiving the money from these large sales.Hoarding – This is a practice where a book dealer or group of dealers working together will grab a lot of books from anarea put them in a corner or in boxes and look through them later. This does a disservice to the sale since they are
  7. 7. not out on the tables to be purchased by other customers. Also several dealers will not place books back in thecategory they belong, causing an unorganized mess that will require volunteer time to clean up.Some libraries ban dealers in general, to avoid the big mess left behind. However there is one solution that allows youto continue to receive the money these dealers bring in and prevent the mess. This solution is to “ban” hoarding.Some libraries do this by a 1 box/bag policy. Once you fill up a box or bag of items you want, you must purchase itand take it out to your car. This enforces the behavior to only take what you want to purchase off the table.Scanners- Book dealers will use scanners to search for books they are looking for. While most of the time this willcause no problems to the people around them, some deals do have sound on their devices which will cause a beepingsound. One simple solution (without losing the income from these dealers) is to ask them to turn the sound off or usea head set.Some libraries ban scanners, to prevent book dealer from crowding out community members. While some do it for thewhole sale, a few are starting to only ban it for the first day. This allows community members or non dealers to havefirst picks at the books, but does not completely cut out book dealers who usually purchase large amounts of books ata time.Bake sale/concession standSome customers may be there for an hour or more. Selling snacks, bottled water and having a sitting area may bringin some extra money for your sale (depending on your sale size).Special Sale DaysAdding special sale days may help sell more books and make more money doing so.Preview sale daysPreview sale days, or the first sale day is a perfect opportunity to make more money for your organization. Manyorganizations have the first night (typically 2-4 hours) opened for members of the organization only. This allows thosewho are a part of your organization have first pick at the books. By selling memberships at the door will help growyour membership while raising more funds for your cause.Other organizations, who do not have a membership to their club, will charge a entrance fee. On average a sale thatis up to 10,000 books will charge $5 a person, and more for a larger sale. Some organizations will charge less forchildren (or allow them at attend for free) they will also have family admission charge, for example $20 for a family toattend.Another option for a first night, if you do not want to charge admission or require membership, is to increase the priceof the books. You can double, or have a 50% increase in the price of books for the first night for those who get firstpicks at the sale. This will help you make more money on desirable books.Half Price daysThese are exactly as they sound. These are days where every (or almost everything) is half price. These days areusually the last day or the second to last day if you choose to have a full bag sale day. If you choose, you can excludecollectable books, special items, or like new books from half of day.Bag saleThese days are great ways to clean out many of your books for cheap prices to your customers. These are usuallyheld on the last day (or second to last day if you have a free day), and the price of bags range from $1 to $5.Organizations will usually provide bags (typically the paper grocery bag kind). These are sometimes donated to theorganization from a local grocery store.Some other variations on this sale day are:
  8. 8. o Box sales which can range in price from $5 to $10o If customers purchase a tote from your organization they can fill the bag for freeo Decreasing bag prices as the day proceedsFree DayThese days are used to avoid storage of books for the next sale, or the volunteer hours to clean up the books afterthe sale. Some organizations limit these days to nonprofits and or teachers, or give those organizations the firstcouple hours of free day before they let the general public inDiscounted bag sales for other nonprofits or teachers
  9. 9. Clean UpAfter the sale, clean up procedures depend on how your sale operates. Arranging the way your books will bestored/donated will help you plan on how to proceed after the sale and will prevent wasting hours of your volunteerstime by moving them a couple times before they reach their final destination. Below are several options for what to dowith the remaining books.Store themIf you have the space to store them until the next sale, box them up and make sure the categories are labeledcorrectly on the boxes. This will help you be ready for the next sale. Condense the boxes as much as possible, andbreak down or store the unused boxes. You may need to use these for your next round of donations.Auction themSome libraries have success with auctioning off the remaining books on ebay or an equivalent site. You could make alisting, give the time window for the buyer to pick them up and have them box up and remove the books at the sale.Be sure to clearly state this in your listing, and specify that the books are the remnants of a book sale.Donate themContact local Thrift Shops, Libraries, Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Daycare Centers or Schools to see if they would likeany/all of the books that are remaining. Some online options for donating are:www.booksforsoldiers.com - You must pay for shipping to soldierswww.gotbooks.com - located in MARecycle themContact your local recycling center or waste center and ask about recycling options for your remaining books.Taking care of the VolunteersVolunteering for a book sale can be hard work. It is nice to give back to the volunteers that help make this fundraiserhappen. You can do so in a couple ways.Provide snacks or a meal while people are working: This can be as easy as chips and beverages provide a meal likepizza or pot luck.Allow volunteers to purchase some books before the sale. Doing so is usually limited to a dollar amount or 1 bag ofbooks. Some organizations also allow volunteers to pick out a bag of books free of charge for their hard work at thesale.
  10. 10. Other sources used:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7ddKoba0AU&feature=relatedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gq1OS35ICU&feature=relatedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBP2Y68WVTM&feature=relatedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoSMhsIGo9Ahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhN6Y5dSj-Mhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhN6Y5dSj-Mwww.booksalemanager.com/nonprofit-used-book-sale-guide.aspxwww.infotoday.com/searcher/mar08/Hogan.shtml “Library book sales can be the stuff of dreams for both library supporters and book lovers” -Cecilia Hogan Director, University Relations Research University of Puget Sound