(for Westport News)
By Mike Lauterborn
Westport, CT – Support for a school’s PTA, focus on literacy and a showcasing of local talent were the driving elements of a weekend book fair.
The event, known as the Coleytown Middle School Book Fair, opened Friday April 29 at Barnes and Noble Bookstore, 1076 Post Road, and was scheduled to run through Saturday, April 30. In addition to raising funds for the school’s PTA, to go toward its scholarship fund, trips, events and other miscellaneous needs, the fair offered book signings by local authors and live music performances.
“We have done this for years with Barnes and Noble,” said Robyn Levy, co-chair of the Fair, along with Corri Neckritz, both parents at Coleytown. “The way the process works is that people go to the cashier with a book selection and mention they are shopping for Coleytown Middle School. The cashier notes it and attributes a percentage of that sale to the school. The target is to sell over $10,000 worth of books over the two days to reach our fundraising goal.”
Levy added that, if people were not able to get to the Westport Barnes and Noble, they could go online or to another location, using a special code. “People can go online to www.bn.com and use the CMS code 10420206,” she said. “They can also use the code at any other Barnes and Noble physical location across the country.”
Levy said that each year they try to organize entertainment to drive some fun and attendance at the Fair. “Today at 4 p.m., we have local author Michael MacColl signing her book ‘Prisoners in the Palace,’” she said. “Tonight at 7, the Fairfield School of Rock’s House Band will perform live in the store’s café. Tomorrow at 11 a.m., local author Cameron Stracher will sign his book ‘The Water Wars’ and Coleytown students will showcase their musical talents.”
Tricia Tierney, Community Relations Manager at Barnes and Noble, said the store and Coleytown have been partnering for close to 10 years. “It’s a great fundraiser, a no-brainer,” she said. “It’s around books, a chance for the school to shine and we’re hosting local authors. It’s a real celebration.”
An added way for shoppers to perform a good deed was to purchase a new book and donate it to the Westport Dept. of Human Services for families in need. To this regard, a bin had been set up for collection by the Book Fair table. “It can be an inexpensive bargain book, but it is much appreciated.”
Kate Andrews, of Westport, was one of many people from the community that came down to show support. “I needed to buy a book anyhow and waited until today to purchase it,” she said. “The Fair is a great effort, providing some much needed funding to the school.”
Tierney pointed out that e-Book purchases would not count as a Book Fair credit. “However, if you buy a Nook e-reader, which is a new device introduced by Barnes and Noble, that would be credited,” she said.
“The original black and white Nook and its accessories were introduced well over a year ago,” explained Tierney, “but now there’s a new color version, which has lots of features, applications and functions. It’s an award-winning reader’s tablet.”
Tierney added that the trend is that people are reading more books – not necessarily physical copies, but e-Books. “Reading is not going away and books are not going away,” she said. “Devices like the Nook just enhance the experience, providing another vehicle for reading that allows instantaneous access. For Barnes and Noble, it’s still about reading, in any format. The Book Fair reinforces that.”