Creating Wish Lists with Capstone Press: A Next Step in Student Book Budgets

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Jim Boon from Capstone Press has been doing student book budgets with me since the beginning.  Each year things change just a bit, and Jim naturally adapts right along with me.  This year, we have our largest group of students working simultaneously so it gets noisy fast.  The most challenging thing is making sure that every voice is heard and that all members of the book budget group are engaged.  I love bringing in Jim because he masterfully listens to all students.  He makes connections with them and even remembers them from year to year if they have been part of the group before.  The students in turn have come to know him.  The returning students welcome him back and the new ones quickly learn why we bring him back every year.

Ahead of Jim’s visit, I email him some possible dates to visit.  We establish a time and he mails catalogs for all of the students to use on the day of his visit. Once we have our purchasing goals, I share those with him as well.  He sets up a big selection of Capstone books for students to look at that match the goals that they have set.  He even divides the books into 2 displays: fiction and nonfiction.

Jim does a very short explanation of what students have in front of them. He shows them how to look for books in the index and as well as how books a grouped together. He shows them that the displays might only have one book from an entire series that they can find in the catalogs. He shows them where to find prices for individual books as well as complete sets.  He shows them how each set of books has a barcode in the catalog that can be scanned straight into a wishlist on capstonepub.com  This scanning feature puts the entire series into the list, but then you can go in an uncheck the books that you don’t want to add.

Finally, Jim talks to students about current promotions that Capstone is offering that might stretch their budget even more. I love this part because it helps students think about how they might invest their money or how they might request extra money from me in order to take advantage of a promotion.  This discussion usually doesn’t happen on this particular day, but I always love seeing their wheels turning as they give me reasons why we should spend our money a certain way.

The fun begins when students leap into action. They take books from the display back to their tables and look through them.  They peruse the catalogs.  This is the point where it is hard to stay focused on our purchasing goals.  With a catalog of hundreds of pages, there are so many interesting books that don’t match what we said we were going to buy, and students easily slip into what they personally want to buy rather than what the whole school wants.  I don’t really worry about this very much during our first day with catalogs. Instead, I give a few reminders to think about our goals, but I know that we will revisit the entire list when we make cuts to match our budget.

As students find books that they want to add to the wishlist, they begin forming a line at my computer. I pull up a student book budget list on capstonepub.com and students scan the barcode in their catalogs.  We uncheck all of the books in the series that they don’t want to keep and then save the list.

At this point we don’t worry much about money, but when a student scans a series of 32 books and says that they want to add all of them, I do let them know how much all 32 books would cost.  Most of the time, the student is shocked and quickly narrows down to a few books that they really want to add.

Across an hour, students made a wish list with 161 titles totaling $3071.91.  Capstone is not our only vendor we are working with, so we are definitely going to have to cut some titles from this list.  We will meet 4 more times to add more titles, revisit our goals to see that they are all represented, and finally narrow our list down to the budget we have agreed upon.

We thank Capstone Press and Jim Boon for their continued support of his project.  We appreciate that this company listens to students as well as offers a rewards program that allows us to stretch our student budget even more.

 

Students Meeting with Vendors: Book Talking with Avid Bookshop

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One of my favorite steps in the student book budget process is when the students get to meet real vendors and talk with them.  This year at the School Library Leadership Summit someone asked me if I ever used an independent bookshop as one of my vendors for student book budgets.  The answer was no, but this year we changed that.

I email Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop, and asked if she would like to be a part of this year’s project.  It was refreshing to hear that community outreach is actually a big part of her business plan, so she definitely wanted to be a part.  When our students had their purchasing goals created, I sent them to Will Walton at Avid Bookshop.  Will is an awesome bookseller and has his first novel coming out in May called Anything Could Happen.

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Will pulled several books from the shop and brought them to our book budget meeting.

I made a Google spreadsheet and shared it with all of the students.  The spreadsheet included a spot for title, author, price, and which goal the book matched.  Will put the books into various categories and started talking about each one.  If the book sounded interesting, then the students worked together to capture the details in the document.

I learned pretty fast that they needed to see the title, author, etc so I pulled Avid’s website up on the board and typed in each book as he talked.  The students could easily copy down the info while he talked.

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After talking through several titles, the students had lots of questions for him.  They had a great time just talking books with Will.  Several students branched off to do their own thing, so I decided to add another layer onto what they could do.

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We used our state database, Galileo, to pull up Novelist K-8 Plus.  I showed students how they could look at books by age range and genre.  Then, Novelist shows books that are similar to books that you have read and liked.  I suggested that they use Novelist to find books that sounded good and matched our goals, and then use Avid’s site to find the price and add to our spreadsheet.

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Mr. Coleman’s ELT group is joining us in this project and they plan to continue this process this week before we meet again on Monday.

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We are very grateful to Avid Bookshop for their support of students.  I loved how Will talked directly to them.  He asked them questions about books but also questions about how they planned to spend their money.  He posed interesting questions such as “Have you thought about paperback versus hardback?  The cost difference can be about $10.”  Students were shocked by the price difference but most agreed that they wanted hardback for durability in the library.  That was without any prepping or pushing from me.  I was amazed.  They said the extra $10 was worth it if the book lasted longer.

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I love how these types of conversations naturally surface.  You can’t force plan each one, but they usually come up at some point.  Soon, the students will meet with another vendor and start the hard process of cutting their wishlist to meet our budget.