Points of Sale is an occasional column that shares bookselling tips and ideas from booksellers for booksellers.
“I wanted an evergreen way to get ARCs to kids,” said Kenny Brechner, owner of Devaney, Doak, & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington, Maine, and PW ShelfTalker blogger, about the genesis of his soon-to-launch DDG ARC Houses project.
Brechner plans to fill self-standing Little Free Library-style book houses with age-appropriate galleys, f&gs, and blads at all seven schools in his local Mt. Blue Regional School District, to promote literacy and engage readers in grades K through 12. The concept grew out of a conversation Brechner had two years ago with members of his local Rotary Club, who wanted to craft a project that combines the book-sharing library concept and literacy.
With a grant from the Rotary Club and approval from area schools, Brechner began sketching out a way to use the store’s many galleys and encourage conversation among students about the galleys they read. In addition to creating an ARC house where kids can pick up galleys to own, borrow, and share, he is in the process of setting up an online hub where the children can compare notes about what they’ve read and continue the conversation throughout the school district.
Initially, the project was slated to kick off last year, and by the spring Brechner had already saved hundreds of middle grade and early YA galleys. Assistant store manager Karin Schott, whose son attends Mt. Blue Middle School, suggested giving them away as an end of school year gift to middle schoolers. So last June, DDG set up tables where each of the 575 students at the school could choose a galley to take home as part of the store’s Free ARC Book Fair.
That program was such a success that Brechner is optimistic about the potential for this even larger free galley project, which will launch with eight ARC houses. “I’m confident that it will do well,” said Brechner. Already, high schoolers in the district are helping to build and preparing to decorate the libraries. They and members of the Rotary Club will also staple f&gs that have been saved for younger readers. To allay concerns about jumping on-sale date, Brechner will stock the libraries with ARCs on or after the finished book’s street date.
While there are similarities between the new program and last year’s Free ARC Book Fair—both get free galleys into the hands of young people and foster enthusiasm for reading—the new project is much more ambitious by attempting to reach all kids in the district on an ongoing basis. Although the DDG ARC Book Houses project still has a few construction wrinkles, including burning the logos of both the Rotary Club and DDG Books on the roofs so that they are readable, Brechner anticipates that the ARC houses will be ready very soon.