Getting new books into young hands

Marketplace Staff Jun 1, 2007
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Getting new books into young hands

Marketplace Staff Jun 1, 2007
HTML EMBED:
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KAI RYSSDAL: Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s been keeping himself in the media spotlight, as I think we’ve mentioned a couple of times on the program. He’s talked about the possibility of recession recently. And he’s said some unflattering things about the Chinese stock market, too.

If you’ve got 35 bucks you can read for yourself what he’s got to say about his time running the central bank. His memoir comes out this fall — “The Age of Turbulence” it’ll be called.

And as part of his PR campaign he was the keynote speaker today at Book Expo America in New York City. One of the most impressive stories at the expo, though, isn’t a new release. It’s a nonprofit group that’s found a new market in a historically tough industry.

Alex Goldmark has more.


ALEX GOLDMARK: About a dozen young girls wearing oversized yellow T-shirts are finishing up their homework here at Sister Power, an after school and mentoring center in East Harlem. Founder Cynthia Kirkpatrick shows me around.

CYNTHIA KIRKPATRICK: This is the favorite hang out, believe it or not. This is the library and most of these books come to us from First book.

First Book is a nonprofit group that gets new books to low-income children through groups like Sister Power. Kirkpatrick is both able to stock this 1,000-book library and give out books for keeps.

KIRKPATRICK: I think that, honestly . . . I think that they would not have a library at home. Cause if we only had 150 books, we would would have to keep all those books in-house. We would not be in a position to give out books, or give out as many books. KYLE ZIMMER: There is a tremendous chasm of need for books in the lives of children.

That’s Kyle Zimmer, the founder of First Book.

ZIMMER: Eighty-percent of the preschools and after-schools we serve have not a single book for the children in their program.

One obstacle is these kids just can’t afford new books. Another is that publishers willing to donate books or sell them at a steep discount face tremendous logistical problems in delivering small quantities of the right reading material to hundreds of thousands of after-school programs.

So First Book is banding them together — over 15,000 small groups so far. Add in some sophisticated inventory software and these low-income groups become a viable market.

ZIMMER: When you begin adding up that program with one two blocks down, with one three blocks over and you go across the country through our hundreds of communities, now you’re talking about a market force that can be transformative for the publishing industry, and it can be transformative for literacy and reading in the United States.

The grassroots groups pick out titles at a website First Book makes available just for them. Then First Book uses a patchwork of donated warehouse space to receive and distribute millions of books each year. In fact, the process is so efficient that it can actually save a publisher money to give the books away.

ALEXANDRA NASH: Books sitting in a warehouse aren’t going to do anybody any good.

Alexandra Nash is in charge of non-bookstore sales for Candlewick Press. When they redesigned the cover of their Judy Moody book series, the older version was still in their warehouse.

NASH: It costs us to keep them there. And by donating these books to First Book, or in some cases selling them, it gives us an option to lower some of those inventory levels and keep them where we need them to be.

So the girls at Sister Power, and other groups, get a brand new Judy Moody book for 10 percent of the cover price. And who knows, maybe the publishing industry will get new retail customers down the line.

GIRL: When I grow up I think I would go to the reading store because I would love to read books more when I grow up since I love books now.

Can’t love ’em if you don’t have ’em.

In East Harlem, I’m Alex Goldmark for Marketplace.

KAI RYSSDAL: Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s been keeping himself in the media spotlight, as I think we’ve mentioned a couple of times on the program. He’s talked about the possibility of recession recently. And he’s said some unflattering things about the Chinese stock market, too.

If you’ve got 35 bucks you can read for yourself what he’s got to say about his time running the central bank. His memoir comes out this fall — “The Age of Turbulence” it’ll be called.

And as part of his PR campaign he was the keynote speaker today at Book Expo America in New York City. One of the most impressive stories at the expo, though, isn’t a new release. It’s a nonprofit group that’s found a new market in a historically tough industry.

Alex Goldmark has more.


ALEX GOLDMARK: About a dozen young girls wearing oversized yellow T-shirts are finishing up their homework here at Sister Power, an after school and mentoring center in East Harlem. Founder Cynthia Kirkpatrick shows me around.

CYNTHIA KIRKPATRICK: This is the favorite hang out, believe it or not. This is the library and most of these books come to us from First book.

First Book is a nonprofit group that gets new books to low-income children through groups like Sister Power. Kirkpatrick is both able to stock this 1,000-book library and give out books for keeps.

KIRKPATRICK: I think that, honestly . . . I think that they would not have a library at home. Cause if we only had 150 books, we would would have to keep all those books in-house. We would not be in a position to give out books, or give out as many books. KYLE ZIMMER: There is a tremendous chasm of need for books in the lives of children.

That’s Kyle Zimmer, the founder of First Book.

ZIMMER: Eighty-percent of the preschools and after-schools we serve have not a single book for the children in their program.

One obstacle is these kids just can’t afford new books. Another is that publishers willing to donate books or sell them at a steep discount face tremendous logistical problems in delivering small quantities of the right reading material to hundreds of thousands of after-school programs.

So First Book is banding them together — over 15,000 small groups so far. Add in some sophisticated inventory software and these low-income groups become a viable market.

ZIMMER: When you begin adding up that program with one two blocks down, with one three blocks over and you go across the country through our hundreds of communities, now you’re talking about a market force that can be transformative for the publishing industry, and it can be transformative for literacy and reading in the United States.

The grassroots groups pick out titles at a website First Book makes available just for them. Then First Book uses a patchwork of donated warehouse space to receive and distribute millions of books each year. In fact, the process is so efficient that it can actually save a publisher money to give the books away.

ALEXANDRA NASH: Books sitting in a warehouse aren’t going to do anybody any good.

Alexandra Nash is in charge of non-bookstore sales for Candlewick Press. When they redesigned the cover of their Judy Moody book series, the older version was still in their warehouse.

NASH: It costs us to keep them there. And by donating these books to First Book, or in some cases selling them, it gives us an option to lower some of those inventory levels and keep them where we need them to be.

So the girls at Sister Power, and other groups, get a brand new Judy Moody book for 10 percent of the cover price. And who knows, maybe the publishing industry will get new retail customers down the line.

GIRL: When I grow up I think I would go to the reading store because I would love to read books more when I grow up since I love books now.

Can’t love ’em if you don’t have ’em.

In East Harlem, I’m Alex Goldmark for Marketplace.

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