Scholastic occasionally publishes semi-scholarly titles. And this is one field where self published books often do very well. Any copies I find of The First Day of School by Harry Wong (ISBN: 0962936065) or Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones (ISBN: 0965026302) are usually snapped up within 24 hours after I've listed them on Amazon.
Here are some of the notable authors in the field:
The other salable category is what I call "teacher idea" books. Like semi-scholarly books, they are often 8.5" x 11" paperbacks. The cover art is frequently "cute" - too cute for my taste. Education books appear to be home for all the wide eyed children and teddy bears that hack illustrators can dream up. Major publishers include:
Here again you'll find salable self published or small press offerings.
Teacher idea books are commonly theme or unit oriented. You'll find books focused on teaching such concepts as 'The Water Cycle', 'The Civil War', or 'Space.' Other books will feature entire units revolving around teddy bears, dinosaurs, or quilts, just to name a few. These books contain reproducible worksheets, bibliographies, and lesson plans. The rate of return is not nearly what it is on the semi-scholarly books but occasionally you'll be pleasantly surprised. They often do well in lots, grouped by grade level or subject, and can be marketed to both classroom teachers and homeschoolers.
University Press publications are usually too dry and scholarly to be of much interest to a practicing classroom teacher, though there are exceptions. Check the copyright date: If it's recent, you may have a winner. Books published by national associations can either be very, very good or very, very bad. Once again, the date is important.
Teachers, as a rule, aren't overly fussy about condition or whether or not a copy is ex-library. Price and speed of delivery are important to them. Make sure you offer Priority shipping as an option.
Other than FOL sales, both thrift stores and garage sales are excellent sources of education related books. Teaching is a high-turnover profession - and sadly, there is more going than coming. The most common causes are either new parenthood or burnout. Both are life-altering events that tend to lead to a total purging of books and related items. In addition, the front edge of the baby boomers, women who entered teaching because it was "a good job for a woman." are now retiring at a fast and furious rate. Teachers are pack rats, but once they leave the profession, they tend to divest themselves of any reminder of their former life.
Garage sales organized by retiring teachers are often gold mines for classic children's books. Teachers are often recipients of school library discards. Take the time to check out picture books while muttering "horses, witches, cats and mice." You might mine yourself a gem or two.
Keep in mind that sales of education books are somewhat cyclical. It should come as no surprise that August is a good time to list. December and January are also good - often a new teacher will take over a class in January, when a new semester begins. Oddly, June is another good month - teachers are off and many either take classes or catch up on some of their professional reading over the summer.
I sell the bulk of my education books on Amazon. The only exceptions are teacher idea books, which I sell on eBay in lots. Most school districts have computer filters in place that block eBay, so it is hard for teachers to follow an auction during the school day. End your education-oriented auctions on a Sunday night.
Other education related items suitable for selling on eBay include teaching aids, kits, and manipulatives. The current trend in education stresses "hands on learning," especially in math. This requires a multitude of materials - Base 10 blocks, Quiet Counters, Fraction Bars and Counting Bears. Lakeshore is a major player in this area. Occasionally I stumble across these in thrift shops, but most often they are garage sale finds. These are as popular with homeschoolers as they are with classroom teachers.
In the end, I left that FOL sale with a nice stack of books that priced out at a couple of hundred dollars. The perplexed woman left empty handed. By the time she found the education books, both the homeschooling Moms and I had picked it clean.
The next time you are at a sale wander over to the children's section and take a look - in between ducking strollers the size of small SUVs and rampaging children, you might find a gem or two.
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