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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Big Box Bookstore or Librarian Friendly Store

Would I possibly post something to stir up conversation? You Betcha! I wrote about Covers and Corporate Control Jan. 2nd and received an invitation to meet with a Community Relations Manager Jan. 8th. Since I took COPIOUS notes, I’m going to share a large amount of information. 

Robbie Bryan called me the first week of January to tell me about specials occurring in his store that I wouldn’t want to miss. He’s right. When Barnes & Noble runs their DVD sale where you can buy 2 and get the third free, it’s the best deal of the year. What made this year special is that boxed sets and Blu-ray are included in the list. I needed to run by the store. Don’t worry. You still have until February 2nd to get there. I’m including the flyer he emailed me also.

I don’t need excuses to go to the bookstore, but it’s easier to convince other teachers to go with you when Barnes & Noble hosts Educator Appreciation Days Sat. January 17th – Sun. Jan 25th. I like the 25% discount on books for myself in addition to books for my school. Educator Days occur three times a year.

Since I had recently held a bookfair that generated approximately $1.10 per student in school profit, I was interested in learning more about Barnes & Nobles’ bookfairs. Robbie sent me more information and a testimonial from a local librarian. Should I host a BN bookfair this spring? Will my students drive the 14.3 miles to the nearest BN?

The Barnes & Noble website keeps evolving so Robbie made sure I had the newest pamphlet including information on their webcasts, podcasts, videos, daily book reviews, book clubs, and more. 

Then I mentioned to him that I had written this little blog post about how corporations sell their prime space, force publishers to change their covers, and won’t carry enough varieties of children’s nonfiction. While we talked I sent him the links and then I asked whether he thought I could come by the store to meet with him and take some pictures. I like being fair and giving people the opportunity to respond with information. It’s possible that I only "think" I know what I’m writing about after all. 

Robbie immediately volunteered to rearrange his work schedule so that he would still be in the store late on Thursday afternoon to meet with me after school. Neither of us knew this simple meeting would last until 8 p.m. I felt guilty about keeping him so long past his normal work hours, but Robbie pointed out that each Barnes & Noble has a Community Relations Manager that is there specifically to work with school and public libraries. He often comes in before 7 a.m. just to be there when our high schools open. I do appreciate his dedication, but I was worn out by the time I left.

When I arrived Thursday, Robbie was busy helping a public library director purchase a large volume of DVD’s and CD’s for her collection. In order to get the best value, he was helping advise her how to group purchases, locate the lowest price (even if it was online), and how to truly maximize her budget. Then it was on to filling out the paperwork in triplicate since many customers use purchase order’s or corporate accounts. There were other employees there, but Robbie took the time to help her so that she was getting the best service, also. 

While they worked, I meandered through the collections of classical, pop, soul, jazz, oldies, gospel, blues, international, show, rock, country, and childrens’ music. I discovered a Johnny Cash Children’s CD that is based upon the 1975 album with kid’s songs and sing-alongs. There was a CD of the Best of Schoolhouse Rock. Aha! Over there for only $13.99 was Ella Jenkins Multi-cultural children’s songs. I played with the headphones since the sign said I could listen to over 200,000 songs and I wanted to think up esoteric songs that they probably wouldn’t have. Rats! They were all included. 

As soon as the customer left, Robbie devoted his time to showing me what makes Barnes & Noble far more than a typical big bookstore. We began with the classic books that Barnes & Noble produces. Note another good sale. Can you guess which title really caught my eye? Yes, it was Treasure Island. Each of the covers are distinctive and evoke the content of the books. All have introductions that were written by experts in that particular field, not generalists. I got really excited when I saw the price of the Jane Austen omnibus – a collection of 7 complete & unabridged novels for only $12.95. Now, those kind of prices make the collection very interesting for middle/high school/ and home libraries. 

Book Cover Image. Title: Grapes of Wrath (SparkNotes Literature Guide), Author: by John  SteinbeckOff we journeyed to see what other unique products B & N produces and we came to the "SPARK" sections. Sparknotes Literature Guides are very useful tools for parents, high schoolers, and college age students. I utilized the Grapes of Wrath Sparknotes book when my oldest son was in middle school 5 years ago (when Sparknotes first came out) because I needed to help him organize, understand, and retain the big picture of what he was reading. Sparknotes aren’t a replacement for reading the book at all, but I do wish more libraries carried them to help parents like me. 

Along came the section of SparkCharts! AHA! I could really use these in my middle school ESL class right now. The inside of these laminated charts is very colorful and groups vocabulary in helpful ways for my English language learners. These charts are 3-hole punched and ready to go into 3-ring binders. Lots of helpful topics for the postsecondary crowd, too

While I was looking, I found Sparkcharts for html and java, law, and legal writing and much more. For only $4.95 I need the html chart. My brain is too tired to remember all of those bloomin’ codes and I need the information laminated so I can wipe the coffee stains off. Don’t tell me you don’t drink coffee near your computer because I won’t believe you.  Hey! Did you know that each of these charts also has a website where you can report any errors? It makes me want to see if there are any. What happens if I find and report an error? Will they send me a corrected chart?
Since students and adults are constantly taking tests, the SparkNotes Power Packs have 5 tools in one box for only $14.95. Why didn’t someone out there tell me about these when my son was in AP classes? Each pack contains diagnostic tests, 300 study cards, 2 Sparkcharts, a study plan, and a practice exam & strategy book. There is even an ACT Power Pack that has an essay which is graded by a real person instead of a machine. 

After a customer came by and asked "us" for help, Robbie went off to assist and I wandered through to see what else was specifically a Barnes & Noble product. I found these Daily Spark books that contain 180 different activities. Do you think anyone other than teachers know we have 180 days of school each year? The Daily Spark books have activities or exercises to motivate and focus students at the beginning of the class. In my school these are called Bellringers – meant to occupy the students while the teacher takes attendance on the computer. Well, I guess they’re supposed to be learning something, too, but you’d have to prove it to me after visiting a couple classes. I picked up the Daily Spark for critical thinking and for Great Books. These are worthwhile additions to a teacher’s collection.

Okay, but what about the younger students? Barnes & Noble has created easier, more colorful versions of their Sparkcharts called FlashCharts

They also have a product called FlashKids which contains an entire grade level curriculum for only $19.95. Tennessee has many home school families so I’m sure these are a big hit. There were even Flash Skills books with lots of activities. 

Tired yet? Well, we weren’t half way through our chat, but I’ll give you a break to get more coffee before you read the next post.