A Bookwagon Experience
It has been a busy few weeks for Bookwagon. We exhibited with Reading Rocks South, thanks to the support of our ‘third wheel’. Our calendar is filling up with book fairs. Schools have booked more writers and illustrators for visits, supported by us. We took our first visit to my ‘home’ in more than six years. I bade farewell to a beloved aunt, who gifted me a book that stood me through the rocky road of adolescence. Mr Bookwagon experienced his first ever sleepover! It was a mighty Bookwagon experience.
A Bookwagon experience is incomplete without books. Off site, we seek out bookshops. My family warned me that a longstanding favourite, Howick’s Readaway bookshop, had closed after nearly forty years. They rushed to its closing sale to pick up last-minute bargains.
I was delighted to discover that it has been replaced by another bookshop staffed by committed, informed staff. Its titles were varied and interesting. Poppies’ Bookshop states that its purpose is ‘to nurture the pleasures of book ownership and to engage with customers who have a passion for reading and for sharing that passion’. These words ring true for Bookwagon.
I took time to explore the mighty ‘Aotearoa‘ by Gavin Bishop, which won the New Zealand’s Margaret Mahy Book Award. It is unlikely to interest the British market. Its pride and substance reminded me of several other titles that Bookwagon stocks, like The Lost Words and The Dam. Bookwagon titles are intended to be ‘forever’ titles.
As I write, the literary world is full of the launch of Christmas titles. Bookwagon was invited to participate in the Christmas books’ supplement that will populate many shops and chains. However it was a prerequisite that we would stock every title selected. This contradicted our maxim to recommend and sell books we have read and loved only. I would feel a hypocrite if I was to include ‘disposable’ Christmas book titles amongst our Bookwagon books. To that end, we are working to create a unique list of selected Christmas/ celebration titles, books that offer a Bookwagon experience and stamp of love.
Part of our roll out ahead of that season will be a subscription service. We are working to develop something specific to our readers’ needs and suggestions. We welcome any ideas you may have for this development.
Bookwagon has been booking up fairs at a rate! As I commit to schools, the image of wagon trains bounding across the Oregon trail come to mind.
Schools are keen to compare their previous experiences of book fairs with a Bookwagon experience. There are many differences.
When teaching, my dismay in the quality and range offered by traditional school book fairs was a motivation in creating Bookwagon. I felt a responsibility to put my training, experience and understanding into action through creating fulfilling book fairs. A Bookwagon experience supports a reading for pleasure habit with families and in schools.
A Bookwagon book fair is staffed by the Bookwagon team. We are each DBS certificated. Every one of us is able to direct children, staff and parents to the best books for them.
Bookwagon is an independent children’s bookseller. Every title we recommend and sell has been read by us. The words describing our books on our site are our own. As such, it means that when we provide a school book fair, we make informed recommendations.
Bookwagon curates our book fairs to match individual school’s requirements. From the cohort to the theme, a Bookwagon experience suits the venue.
The titles on offer are unique to the venue, many unknown to readers. We have titles from a huge range of publishers and countries.
Costs and commission
Bookwagon discounts the prices to the school/ venue, without jeopardising income to the writer/ picture book maker.
The school receives a percentage of the books sold at the fair. We are as generous as possible. All our titles are ‘forever’ titles, i.e., books that children and staff want to read and keep. There are never any commercial tie-ins, stationery, stickers or merchandise.
As an independent bookseller Bookwagon cannot afford the sort of discounts offered by book fair wholesalers from a single publisher. However, these boxed up book fairs cannot offer our range or quality of titles. They do not offer informed staffing. The titles are not read and loved.
Throughout years of teaching, I found we often struggled to find enough books of quality we wanted from commercial book fairs, to fulfil their excessively generous concession.
Bookwagon does not charge the school at any point. Every school and venue at which we have exhibited, has invited us to return.
In our book fairs and popups, we aim to give visitors the sort of experience we seek when browsing bookshops and stalls. A Bookwagon experience aims to be similar to the tables of books beneath Waterloo Bridge, Munro’s Books in Victoria, Vancouver Island, Poppies Bookshop in Howick, and Shakespeare and Company in Paris. Bookwagon wants readers to be able to lose themselves a little in reading possibilities.