Non Profit Book Sale Dynamics Discussed

By Lance Winslow

Most libraries and a good many nonprofit groups decide to hold book sales. Sometimes groups form around the library called; “the friends of the Library of…” and they host these books sales. The money is then used for library events, upgrades, and to buying new books. If you consider the incredibly tough economic times for cities and counties throughout our great nation, you can see why it is even more important today for nonprofit book sales to generate as much money as possible.

I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss some things that I have observed at nonprofit book sales, which may be important information for any nonprofit library group which is sponsoring such a fund raising event like a book sale. Often, the book sales will go for a number of days.

On the last day there will still be books left over, which no one decided to purchase. At that point it makes sense to allow people to bring in a grocery store bag and charge them one price to fill up the bag. Something like three dollars and you can put as many books as you want in the bag. It makes sense to do this on the last day of the book sale, but only for a few hours.

It also makes sense that during the book sale to warn folks that the book they may want most likely will not be there the last day of the book sale so it makes sense to buy it now, and pay full price instead of waiting to the last day. One thing I have witnessed is that during these “fill up a bag of books for a very low price,” periods, local used bookstores come in with teams of people, gather up all the books, crowd everyone else out, and taking vantage of everything. The bring in 25-50 bags and have 5-7 people filling them up as fast as they can.

The nonprofit library group may not care because their goal after all is to sell all the books that either haven’t sold in their on-site library used bookstore all year, or clear out the donation room of books stacked from floor to ceiling. One thing I would recommend is that all the local elementary schools, and high schools, and even any of the private schools be invited to look over all the books that didn’t sell before the last day “Bag of Books sellout sale” begins. Also limit the bag of books sale to three bags per person max.

There are several reasons for this, but the major reason being that many of the used bookstore resellers, go out of their way to take advantage of the situation, and wouldn’t it be better to just give books away to schools, and let them pick through what’s left, before allowing people to come in and buy books by the box and truck load for one dollar, two dollars, three dollars a bag? Please think about the strategy.

Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank. Lance Winslow believes in free enterprise;

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