Follett Shutters Book Fair Business

Follett Book Fairs is closing shop. Thousands of fairs have been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic, prompting the decision to shutter the business by Follett School Solutions.

Follett Book Fairs is closing shop. Thousands of fairs have been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic, prompting the decision to shutter the business, Follett School Solutions (FSS) reported in a statement to the media.

Like everyone across the K12 community, Follett hoped for a robust return to school this fall. But further uncertainty led to an ongoing soft market. Customers paused during the usual seasonal purchasing period, not sure whether students were coming back for in-person school this year, says Britten Follett, CEO/Content for FSS.

While business has otherwise rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, according to Follett, there was no way to anticipate the volatility that COVID brought to the start of the 2021 school year. With the state of book fairs—Follett has received upwards of 50 cancellations in a recent week—“there was no real path to profitability,” says Follett.

Follett entered the book fair market in October 2017, launching Follett Book Fairs, offering the events initially in K6 and K8 schools in specific regions, then quickly expanding to serve more students and schools in major markets around the country. A highly anticipated offering, Follett Book Fairs gave educators some choice in an arena long dominated by Scholastic, previously the only book fair game in town.

[READ: Follett Expands Book Fair Offerings for 2018-19]

Follett’s positioning as a leading provider of learning materials and technology solutions in schools and libraries nationwide, with a broad customer base, furthered interest in what they could do with book fairs.

Follett EFairs will run through November 15, says Follett, who is set to regroup and consider future strategy.

“We know parents still want to buy books for their kids and parents want to fundraise [to benefit their school],” she says.

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Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka is editor in chief of School Library Journal.

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