Friday, September 11, 2009

No More Cheap Books?

Ok, so maybe I am a little miserly, but with the economy in such a poor state and people worrying about job security, I think that may not be such a bad thing. Naturally, as things cost more to produce, the price goes up, and when people pause before making a purchase, the price stays up, but I was a tad disappointed with the very noticeable price increases of books offered through the Scholastic Book Club.

The book club of the past

I have fond memories of ordering books from Scholastic when I was little, mainly because with three sisters, getting something that was entirely mine was a rarity, and something new during the school year was almost non-existent. I remember how some downplayed the company because it offered much, if not all, of its books in paperback form, and these books would certainly not last the year. My mother thankfully did not subscribe to this way of thinking. She believed in fostering our love of books and she tried to add to our small collection whenever she could. Because the books were so reasonable, each of us were usually allowed a couple choices, and she taught us to treasure these new additions. (She still has many of these same books for my kids to enjoy when we come to visit…)

That was then, this is now...

Now prices did go up, but that was over 30 years ago, and this was expected, but prices were still more than reasonable, and when my daughter was in preschool, I started adding to her personal library. This tradition continued on into elementary school, but when my son started school, I noticed a major change. There used to be several books in each pamphlet in the $1 to $2 range, and my children and I would peruse these sections first. I set a price limit for each order, and my increasingly savvy daughter soon caught on to the fact that she could get more books for her buck if she kept to this price range, and four or five books were always better than two.

But there have been some major changes to the book club over the past two years that I haven’t been too crazy about. For one thing, more and more toys seem to be showing up as a side bonus to buying a particular book, and if your kids are anything like mine, an award-winning book is great but just look at the toy you can get with that book! I had to come up with some book ordering rules and one is that the book catalogs were to order books and books only, and although it was a hard sell at first, my kids don’t even bother to ask about the “fluff” books now.

Another disturbing trend is of course the price changes. It is very rare, if at all, to see a book costing anywhere near $1, and the books that are priced this low are usually by an author none of us have even heard of, so my kids don’t even bother to look at these anymore, and frankly I don’t blame them. It is also hard to purchase individual books and books in paperback. If I wanted the hardcover version, I would stop by my local Borders, and I don’t want 30 books even though they are a steal at $2 a book…

All good things must come to an end?

So does this mean I won’t order books for my kids anymore? No, of course not, but it just makes me a little sad to see a favorite icon tarnished and a favorite tradition threatened…


  1. I know what you mean. That was the Book Club I always used when I was teaching 3rd grade for 13 years. I was quite aggravated at all the worthless toys kids bought instead of books, too. I hate to see prices go up, but I'm sure it was unavoidable. It's too bad, though. Less incentive to buy.

  2. I noticed this trend this week actually, when my son brought home the orders. I was so excited to see them, because, like you, I have such great memories of them from when I was in school. But then I started to look at them... I had picked out four books and I was already up to $30! It was extremely depressing. And there were so many "sets" where you had to buy all 10 books, or whatever. I had a hard time narrowing down my choices...

  3. Re: your comment on "Mommy Lite", I HOPE so! But WHEN!? Geesh!

  4. My children (except for the 4 month old) are all past the "book order" age. I miss it. I so loved "book orders" when we were kids and was so happy to get them in the kids back packs when they were all in school. Sorry to hear the prices are going up. When I found out I was expecting again last fall I started grabbing cheap books at yard sales to start a library for our child to be. I had gotten rid of all the "kid" books years ago.


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