Scholastic, the country’s largest operator of school book fairs and book clubs, has announced that it is combining the two divisions into what it says will be an integrated school reading events business. Sasha Quinton, president of Scholastic Book Fairs, has been named to head the new unit, which is expected to be launched by June, in time for the 2023–24 school year. Judy Newman, president of Scholastic Book Clubs, has been named Scholastic’s first chief impact officer.

In a statement, Peter Warwick, Scholastic president and CEO, said that although clubs and fairs are unique businesses, they “have significant overlap and synergies in their customers and operations. By integrating both clubs and fairs into a single, aligned organization, we’re excited about the multiple opportunities to expand Scholastic’s impact, serve our customers better, and improve efficiencies.”

Both the fairs and clubs businesses were significantly impacted by the closure of schools during the pandemic. While book fairs have experienced a solid rebound, clubs have continued to struggle. Through the first nine months of the fiscal year that ends in May, sales through the clubs fell $19.1 million from the comparable period in fiscal 2022. In its quarterly filing with the SEC, Scholastic said the decline was the result of “the multi-year trend of lower sponsor participation and fewer events held in the period ended February 28, 2023.” In addition, in its quarterly filing, Scholastic reported that “cost pressures on the current book club model” was a factor in the company’s decline in earnings in the quarter.

In contrast, nine-month revenue in the book fair channel rose by $104.4 million over fiscal 2022 due to an increase in the number of fairs and higher revenue per fair. The number of fairs held in fiscal 2023 was 85% of pre-pandemic levels, compared to 70% in the prior fiscal year period.

In announcing Quinton’s appointment, Warwick pointed to her strong leadership of the fair division since 2020, during which book fairs “have achieved impressive growth and profitability” by focusing on “highly engaging, quality books that kids love to read, delivered through compelling, reading-focused experiences for schools, families and communities.”

In her new role Newman, who has been at Scholastic for 30 years, will lead the company’s efforts to increase access to books and literacy through partnerships with nonprofit and other organizations that expand Scholastic’s school reading events to new communities, schools, and families.

Scholastic said a transition planning team is beginning to finalize the new business model and organizational structure for the combined school reading events organization, and it will provide more details later this year.