April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Fuel for Your Fire | SLJ’s Average Book Prices 2011

Good data offers a reality check that’s invaluable for building libraries

Following a longstanding tradition, our March editorial brings readers the list of average book prices* . These numbers continue to be a critical piece in the growing data puzzle that we must solve as we plan for the future. Developed by Albert Greco, a professor at Fordham’s Graduate School of Business and senior researcher at the Institute for Publishing Research, the figures provide a key perspective as you engage in collection development and budget management. Since ebooks are an ever-growing segment, we have their average prices on the way—look for them later this spring.

With book prices creeping up, school and public librarians will be pinched even more as they strive to support kids’ learning. More than ever, we need smarter advocacy initiatives.

As SLJ’s latest school library spending survey (“Brace Yourself”) shows, the pain will linger for some time yet. While no surprise, it’s terrible news for a profession that has been rocked by deep budget cuts already. Still, it’s best to know what lies ahead, even when it’s rough.

SLJ120301_editorial_Bkprices(Original Import)Bad news notwithstanding, there are some encouraging signs. According to the survey, book collections have grown slightly and some media specialists’ salaries have risen. There are also some projections that posit that budget cuts may be less deep in 2012–2013 than in recent years. Author Lesley Farmer explores the trends and the impact on staff and students, and brings strategic insights from the field. One survey respondent urges peers to up the ante by using data to tap a community’s competitive spirit.

Farmer and Sara Kelly Johns, SLJ’s “Make Some Noise!” blogger and a school librarian at Lake Placid (NY) Middle/High School, will dive into the advocacy response in a free SLJ webcast on March 29 at 3 p.m., EST. (Go to www.slj.com/spendingsurvey to register.)

In May, public librarians can look to SLJ for an in-depth investigation of trends in spending for children’s and YA services when we deliver the data from a national survey just completed. This survey, a first for SLJ, will no doubt provide its own reality check, but it will also become a useful benchmark as you develop programs locally.

All of this data, and so much more that is available, should be used as fuel to fire the advocacy efforts all libraries need.

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Rebecca T. Miller

*Clarification: The 2010 average book prices School Library Journal published here differ from those published in March 2011 (“Better Data, Better Libraries“). The 2010 averages were originally estimated figures due to data that wasn’t final at the time of publication in 2011. However, the table failed to note that the averages were estimates. In addition, in the intervening year, better datasets enabled Albert Greco, a professor at Fordham’s Graduate School of Business and senior researcher at the Institute for Publishing Research, to refine his modeling for the average prices of YA and childrens’ books. In the 2012 article, the editors opted to publish the best historical 2010 average possible, but regret not clarifying that decision in the original story.

Rebecca T. Miller About Rebecca T. Miller

Rebecca T. Miller (rmiller@mediasourceinc.com) is Editorial Director, Library Journal and School Library Journal.