Public libraries stock a variety of books for a variety of readers. You can donate books to your local library. The library can help you get the word out about your books. Unfortunately libraries are also seriously under funded. This means that the library personnel will more than likely try to recruit your services. Volunteering at the public library is fun and can help you meet the people in your area who are most interested in books.
Patrons who frequent the library generally have their own collection at home. Parents who bring their children to the library encourage their children to read and collect books of their own. Here are the customers you have been looking for. Remember that public libraries are non-profit organizations and you cannot sell on the premises. But there are organizations who will help you as long as you help them.
1. Friends of the Public Library
Most libraries have a support group know as, "The Friends". This group usually consists of volunteers who do fund raising for the public library to generate all the funds needed to keep a library running. Public libraries are funded by either federal or county funds. These funds are cut from time to time. The Friends hold book sales, bake sales and door-to-door drive in order to raise extra money to buy the books they need.
Most of these groups are willing to look at any product that will help them raise money and generate community interest in the survival of the library. You could offer them a dollar amount back for every sticker book the volunteers sell door-to-door.
You may want to set up a personalized table at the next book sale and turn over a percentage when the sale is done. You cannot sell out of the library itself but you may be allowed to place brochures in the library if you designate a percentage back to the Friends organization.
Make sure that you are listed as a Friend of the local Library. This will give you community recognition through various local and state agencies. Volunteer groups who provide services for local agencies are privy to information usually reserved for the local government.
Let your congressperson know you support the library systems.
Ask if the Friends have contacts with the Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) or Reading is Fundamental (RIF). Try to get yourself and you company listed with these organizations as a supplier for valuable reading materials. Most LVA programs are geared towards adults with literacy problems while RIF targets the young reader.
The Friends of the Library usually publish a newsletter. Become a member and make sure you are on their mailing list. The newsletter will keep you up to date on book related community minded activities.
2. Summer Reading Programs
Most public libraries have a Summer Reading Program every year. Use of the library and access to a variety of reading materials is the main focus of the program. Contact the Children's Librarian in your area and find out what is happening during the summer. Offer to give a personalized book to every child successfully completing the program. The Friends will probably want to offset the cost of the books for you or you could get a commercial sponsor and realize a tidy profit.
Find out which corporations in your area are "Partners in Education". Make an appointment with their representative and remind them that the children are out of school but should not get out of practice learning. You can insert a customized book plate on the back cover of every book with the sponsors name and address on it. Ask them if they will sponsor or pay for books donated to the library's summer program.
This is a great way for the corporation to generate community support and invest in the students/employees of the future. Remember to always list the benefits to the sponsors not the profit to yourself. Make a list of objectives that the library is trying to accomplish with their library program. Address each goal using one or more of the books you have available.
- Volunteer to read a book that fits into the current theme at a weekly story hour. Use some of the children's names and the librarians' names. Use the town's famous landmarks and community leaders' names as well. Anything that will make the story more recognizable to the children is definitely worth the effort.
- If you cannot do a story hour yourself, offer to provide the librarian with a book or books to be read. Use all the variables discuss in the earlier paragraph. Ask the librarian if you can supply posters or flyers or any other promotional material for the program. You can't advertise in the library but "Graciously donated by" labels with your company name and address on them are acceptable.
Have fun, and even if you can't participate weekly, make plans to be at the end-of-the-program party.
3. Book Sales
Libraries hold book sales at least once a year to retire worn out or outdated books to earn money to buy new books. Larger libraries may hold up to four book sales annually. Although the local government will frown on a commercial venture at these affairs, you may be invited and sell a lot of books, as long as a fair portion of the proceeds is returned to the library fund.
Governors, congressmen, councilmen and mayors are all aware of the plight of public service funding. One the most prestigious gifts a politician can have bestowed is the dedication of a private library in his or her name. Because the cost for this is so high, many politicians are electing to have "wings" or "collections" dedicated with the public library system instead. These important people are frequently seen at book sales and can be contacted candidly there.
Meeting and greeting the local constabulary will benefit you and your business in the long run. If a local politician endorses your product and sets a precedent, later office holders will find it hard to turn you down.
Book sales generate funds for all types of library programs. Find out what a specific sale is for and determine whether or not your books fit the project's goals. If you are going to be using the hand-made books, make up a sample that is locally dependent and event oriented. Get a local celebrity to read the story on the radio.
If you get air time, try to produce the story in the most humorous format you can. The fishing book is good for this. Radio personalities love to poke fun at themselves and the local government but, remember you are trying to increase your sales so keep it in good taste.
Working with the libraries can be rewarding. You might be able to attend book sales and offer your books, or at least your brochures if you donate a portion to the library. You can donate a finished book to the library, and see just how many times it is check out by children (try Flooty Hobbs). Your association with the library will enhance your visibility in the community and will promote your networking, to help you build your Create-A-Book business. Good Luck and have fun!