Paper or plastic?

Paper or plastic?

Well, not exactly plastic. Cardboard maybe? I just finished my first book orders for the 2014-2015 year. This is one of the most fun parts of my job. I get paid to discover good books and buy them! With someone else’s money! I love imagining the faces of the kids when they see the new goodies I’ve selected.

Then the books arrive, all shiny and new. Most titles get the expected reaction and the shiny new babies go home to be read and enjoyed. Sadly, more and more often the shiny new titles don’t make it back to the library. Over the past five years I’ve had a growing problem with students who don’t return their books. Or return them damaged beyond repair.

Last year I hoarded my new books on a cart out of sight. I only brought them out a few at a time because the year before my heart was broken by the losses. Not just my heart. The hearts of the children who wanted the books that never returned. Greg Heffley, Elephant and Piggy, Pokemon, Barbie, assorted puppies, kittens, and John Cena are now (hopefully) gracing the bookshelves in various homes around town.

Of course, hoarding the books isn’t the answer. The losses still happened. It just took a little longer. I have to take responsibility for part of the problem. I hate telling kids that they can’t borrow a book. Hate it. I used to have clerks who would be the “bad cop”, but my current clerk is a sucker just like me. So we make exceptions. All. The. Time.

In June I vowed that I would get better this coming year. Be tougher. And I will work on that. I promise. But I’m also trying an experiment with paperback books for my most popular titles. I noticed that I could buy three copies of Angry Birds Star Warsfor less than the cost of one hardcover. I can use Kapco covers to make them more durable and still come out ahead.

From one vendor I ordered 104 books for $845, including processing. Of those, 40+  are paperbacks ranging in price from $2.99 – $5.99. I bought far more Star Wars, Lego, and Pokemon than I have ever purchased in a single year. I bought two copies of many of them. I know the kids are going to be thrilled with the selection. The question will be… how will they last?

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