ABA's Prescription for Reading is in full swing, and booksellers who spoke to BTW reported that they are having great success with this year's program. "We started out with 200 books [for the program]," said Lee Kimball, manager of The Library Shop in Richmond, Virginia. "We ended up having to order another 1,000 more."
The 2002 Prescription for Reading program began July 1 and continues through December 13, 2002. Under the program, booksellers distribute "prescriptions," or coupons, to healthcare providers and others in their communities, who then pass them on to parents and caregivers. The coupons can be redeemed at the participating bookstore for both a free copy of this year's exclusive book and a coupon for a savings at Pizza Hut®. Pizza Hut, the co-sponsor of the program, is well-known for its reading incentive program, BOOK IT!®, which has been encouraging children to read for more than 17 years.
This year's book is a special edition of Sylvia Long's Mother Goose, published by Chronicle Books. Baker & Taylor is shipping the kits to bookstores.
Cynthia McClung owns the four-month-old Full of the Dickens bookstore in Sandusky, Ohio, and she's been participating in Prescription for Reading since it began in July. "My past work experience was medical sales," she said. "I had established relationships with healthcare practitioners in the area here. It was easy for me to go to them and say, hey, this is [the program]" and get them to participate.
One such health provider is the Care-A-Van, a mobile healthcare facility. Since most of its patients are low-income families -- many that do not have transportation -- McClung simply gives Care-A-Van the free books and Pizza Hut coupons, along with her business card and a Full of the Dickens flier detailing upcoming events, to distribute directly to the patients. "The whole idea is getting people to read," she said.
However, local Sandusky pediatric offices do distribute the prescriptions, she said, and these patients come to the store to receive the free book. "About 80 percent of these customers generally buy other things," McClung reported. She noted that she had ordered 1,200 books in July and now has only 400 left. And, aside from promoting literacy, the program is helping to promote her new store. "It's building my name and my brand," she explained. "It's putting books in kids' hands who wouldn't have an opportunity otherwise -- people from all walks of life."
The Library Shop, which is part of the Library of Virginia, is located in downtown Richmond next to the Medical College of Virginia. The college's three pediatric offices distribute the prescriptions to patients. "This is a teaching hospital, so [Prescription for Reading] is a natural fit," said the Library Shop's Kimball.
Added Jan Hathcock, public information officer for the Library of Virginia: "This is something to promote life-long learning."
Though this year's program ends in less than three months, it's not too late to order kits, stressed Jill Perlstein, ABA's director of marketing services. "We've enhanced the program by extending the coupon expiration dates until the end of the year and have reduced the participation fee," she explained. "Plus, booksellers who have ordered five or more sets can get one set free upon request. Prescription for Reading provides a marketing tool that allows booksellers to work with a variety of organizations in the community, and, most importantly, to attract customers to their bookstore."