An Alternative to Destroying Overruns: A Q&A with Books for Asia Director Melody Zavala
Extra: How can publishers take part in this program?
Zavala: That’s the beauty of it. We make it easy for publishers … most everything is done by e-mail. First, we start with a brief phone or e-mail conversation to get a general idea of what kind of material a publisher has for donation and when the material was published. In general, we do not accept books published before 2002, though there are exceptions. Via e-mail, we ask the publisher to give us an “offer list”—a list of the actual books they are interested in donating. This list can be generated by the publisher’s own inventory system as long as it include titles, ISBN numbers, year of publication, and the quantity available for donation. We also provide a template that publishers can fill out if they prefer. Via e-mail, we return the list with a column that indicates the quantities we can accept by title. [Then,] the publisher instructs their warehouse to fulfill the order and send the books to our warehouse in San Leandro, Calif. We send the publisher an acknowledgment letter for tax purposes, and we e-mail their communications staff to make arrangements to link their logo and Web site to ours, if desired.
For publishers who have been prior donors, they simply periodically e-mail us an offer list, we reply with quantities and titles we can distribute, and so on. … We take a look at that and turn it around in a day. … Then we allocate it to the countries [and] distribute [it] through our field offices on the ground. There are no third parties. Instead of sending it to the pulp, [the publishers] send it to us.
Extra: What types of books are most in need there?
Zavala: The short answer is everything. The more refined answer is primary, secondary and university textbooks and children’s readers. We always need more materials. … A lot of the communities we work in are print poor. The community doesn’t have a lot of material for kids to develop that interest and love for reading. Beyond that—reference materials. Books for Asia is a program of The Asia Foundation … [and] lot of its programs deal with government and law. There’s a lot of work in the legal sector, engineering and medicine.