This column grew from first-hand experience that many of the best bookselling ideas come from other booksellers. Each tip offers an inventive way to solve problems booksellers may not have even been aware of.
Lemuria Books in Jackson, Miss., has found a way to connect with the community and promote literacy by partnering with the United Way for its Pages of Promise Book Drive to give every student in grades K-12 in the Jackson school system—where 80% of the kids live on or below the poverty line—a book for summer reading. For the second year in a row, the store will be collecting books and monetary donations from April through August for the book drive, and it extends its 20% educational discount to all donors. “What is the coolest about this,” says Lemuria’s children’s manager Emily Grossenbacher, “is that we have raised 1000 books. This is twice as many as last year. People who don’t even have kids are donating a book. This program is about making us more of a community.”
By narrowing the focus to one designated book per grade, from Bill Martin’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear for kindergarten to John Grisham’s The Runaway Jury for grade 12, Grossenbacher says that it’s easier for people to get behind the drive. They don’t have to remember a long list of titles. Not that Lemuria doesn’t try to make it easy for them in other ways, like posting a complete list of titles, which can be purchased for $89.74 as a set, on its blog.
Lemuria is one of several places around the metro Jackson area where people can drop off books. In addition to the libraries, which also carry five supplemental titles for each grade, other institutions are getting involved, including the zoo, which is giving out library cards. Some companies have challenged managers to purchase the entire K-12 set of books, and other employees to buy a book to get young people reading.