Revolution #189, January 17, 2010

Revolution received the following correspondence:

Campus Book Sales for Libros Revolución

I am a professor who is a reader of the paper and a supporter for the local bookstore, Libros Revolución. We have been raising funds for the bookstore through book sales on campus where I teach. I'd like to share our experience in doing this as a way to spur on other professors and students who are supporters to do some similar fundraising.

I think we've done about 10 tables in the last two years. Initially, the books came from boxes that had been donated to Libros Revolución and probably 250 books donated by a friend of a bookstore supporter. Those books included things like What Happened To the Stars of the 50's? and art deco and crafts books. Since then, another supporter of the bookstore donated at least 250 books, with a lot of good children's books and a lot of dime-store novels. A faculty member in Pan African Studies that I know from the union donated another 150 that someone had given to her. She sees us out there and thought of us when she got them and she has read Revolution newspaper. In addition, I've taken at least 200 used books from the shelves at Libros. I've donated some; some have come from various supporters of the bookstore, and some students have donated small numbers. I have a place in a room adjoining my office where I keep the books and add as they come in. I have 4-5 tables and some rolling carts and a grocery basket I've either bought or borrowed. We need at least 600 books to have a good sale.

The last time we did a table two days in a row from 10am to 7pm. On the second day, we finally separated books into categories that really helped key people into what they were looking for. Before that they were all on a long table and people had to search. The first day, before we had it organized, we made $400 and even though the second day we had many less books, they were organized, and we made another $400. We had fiction, non-fiction, children's books, ethnic studies, cookbooks and self-help and crafts books. We also had some Play-station video games that were donated. We sold some of the old photos from a couple years ago fund-raising for the paper and the Sir No Sir DVD (about GI protest during the Vietnam War), which we sold for $10 each. The first day a couple students also baked cookies and another brought Filipino empanadas to sell. We made a total of $800 in the two days. This is the best we've done.

I make sure the students who help at the table have gotten a copy of Revolution newspaper and a Libros Revolución bookstore brochure when they sign up so they know what it's for. We have had both Revolution newspaper and the brochure for Libros Revolución at the book table most of the time. A bookstore supporter was at the table one time and sold the paper, but in the main, we haven't had anyone to sell it except me. For the last two times, we had flyers posted around campus. People have gotten to know us, and we get people saying they got something the last time and will hang around and look. Usually, there are a couple of people who have gone to bookstore events or been involved in other programs we've done. This last time students who are involved in defending abortion and who have been involved in discussions on "A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity" were at the table much of the time. I ran into a Nigerian, who was in my class, at an AIDS march and he signed up and stuck around for hours and helped set up and take down the table and the books. It's a real social scene for the students and some of them have gotten their friends to come along and help too. A student's boyfriend, who is not in my class, sold three International Women's Day t-shirts last summer.

When we first started, we also sold pizza, candy, nuts, soda, etc., but given that we have to pay for them and don't make that much money on them, I've mainly given up on that. One time, a student made cute little 2x2 inch purses to put condoms in and we sold all of them for $5 each. But the books are the main thing, especially since we don't pay anything for them. We have made as low as $60 because there were only two of us at the table and we only stayed about 5 hours. $800 is the most we've made; that was over a two-day period. We made $600 the first sale in October, and before that, I think the most we made was $500, which included the pizza, etc. The other times we have raised between $150-$350.

It takes my being involved for this to come off. I have to oversee the set-up and basically talk to people and sell a lot of books. But, it's not necessary for me to be there the whole time. It does take someone who loves books and has read broadly. I see former students and faculty I know who stop by the table. The initial set-up is the hardest. It takes at least 4-6 people to get the table and books set up. Since I have an office close to where we set up the tables, we are able to use it for storage, which makes the logistics of setting up easier. We sell books from $1-$5 and new things for more than that—like the DVD Sir No Sir. We have a couple of big tubs full of dime-store novels that we sell for $1 each or 10 for $5. One woman whose sister is bedridden got a total of 50 of these books last time.

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

What Humanity Needs
From Ike to Mao and Beyond