Scholastic expands product line in JC

When Scholastic Inc. contracts with area schools to put on book fairs this year, the publishing company will bring the books from its Jefferson City distribution center.

Previously, Scholastic’s operations in St. Louis serviced Mid-Missouri book fairs.

Scholastic’s new Book Fairs Division adds 30 new full-time jobs, some of which still are being filled, said Michelle Clark, Scholastic’s senior operations manager. Scholastic is Jefferson City’s largest private employer, with about 1,800 employees.

The Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce applauded Scholastic for the addition.

“Any time that you have an expansion of a product line that brings jobs, that’s what it’s all about,” said Shaun Sappenfield, the chamber’s existing business manager.

The company’s St. Louis facility will keep its Book Fairs Division, which is one of about 60 the company has around the nation to provide books to 127,000 fairs a year, Clark said.

The new division is operating out of a 40,000-square-foot area in Scholastic’s building off East McCarty Street. Built in 1968, the building is one of three Scholastic now uses for its book distribution and customer service operations.

The Book Fairs Division is one of 13 divisions Scholastic has in Jefferson City. It will service school book fairs from Camdenton to Mexico and from Springfield to Wentzville — basically most distances that a driver can get to and back from within a day, Clark said.

The Scholastic division gives turn-key book fairs to schools. It brings the materials already on the shelves, which simply need to be opened like a book. It also provides displays, shopping bags, table clothes and cash drawers. It will even bring costumes such as Clifford the Big Red Dog for book fair workers to dress in, if they’d like.

“We’ll bring you everything you need,” Clark said. “Whatever they want, we customize it to them.”

The average school orders five shelves of books containing about 140 different books. In addition to books, Scholastic provides related kid-friendly products ranging from pointers to posters to erasers.

In recent years, e-books have eaten into the profits of traditional publishers such as Scholastic. But Fay Edwards, Scholastic’s general manager, said the shift to e-books has leveled off in recent years. The trend never was as big for children’s books, she said.

“For the younger age groups, it’s still about the book,” Edwards said. “I think the tactile feel of having a book in hand, and for teachers to be able to read and parents to be able to read to their kids, they really they like opening the book. So I think the printed book is here to stay and is secure for a very long period of time.”

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