On the front page of the arts section of the New York Times today, there’s an article about how the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is accusing Scholastic of not selling only books with their book clubs.
“The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group based in Boston, said that it had reviewed monthly fliers distributed by Scholastic last year and found that one-third of the items sold in these brochures were not books or books packaged with other items.”
Wow, fascinating. That was happening when I was in Kindergarten. Alright, it did seem to get worse by the time I was in eighth grade. (On another note, I once used a free book coupon in eighth grade to get a copy of Life of Pi, thinking it was a book about the history of the ratio. There was no description in the flyer and I was rather disappointed to discover that it was a novel about a boy named Pi who sits in a boat with a tiger for most of the book.)
But this is an accusation that is true. My problem is that it’s not really a new deal.
The president of this division of the company, Judy Newman, responded to this.
“Many of the items identified by the campaign, she said, were books sold with small items like stickers to help engage children who ‘may not be traditional readers.'”
I can understand this. Let’s say that a kid sees some awesome pendant that comes with a book. They order the book. Maybe to understand the pendant, they have to read the book. My reasoning is weak, but I don’t exactly encourage what Scholastic is doing.
But this isn’t exactly something that’s new. I still have a mini muffin tin I got with a Magic School Bus book in Kindergarten through the book club (It’s really nice for making lots of muffins for lots of people).
The marketing of other objects related to books isn’t something exclusive to Scholastic either. I walked in to a Borders bookstore in Dubuque a few months ago and while walking back to the theater section and periodicals section, I stumbled upon a large display of objects related to Twilight. It had everything, posters, bookmarks, tacky pendants, unauthorized books and guides. Well, everything except the bestselling books. (Just so you know, I purchased a copy of a collection of Pinter.)
It just sadly seems as though books are trying to advertise against TV shows and movies aimed at youngsters. But this isn’t new, parents.