October 2015

Q&A: The Truth About Prizes

This has been a post that’s been swirling around in my head for a long time, and it’s one I haven’t looked forward to writing. However, it’s necessary. Maybe more necessary now than ever in the life of the Readathon. Dewey was spirited and inclusive, but she was also a realist, and so I’ll be realistic with you now. 

Prizes are one of the biggest burdens to the Readathon. One of the most fun for participants but always burdensome. Here’s a quick and dirty, transparent FAQ about prizes and the future of them.

  1. Why didn’t I receive my prize? Publishers, companies, individuals…they’ve all flaked out at some point. Are we sorry when this happens? God, yes. It’s embarrassing to us and feels like a failure. On the flip side, there’s not much we can do about it. We solicit donations because we cannot shoulder the cost of providing prizes or shipping them beyond what we donate ourselves, so that falls to the individual donors, their preferences, and their means.
  2. Doesn’t selling swag help cover the costs? Nope! We made $14 off the last Readathon and those funds are long gone to a very small portion of the cost of running the site.
  3. Why are there fewer prizes this year? Publishers are not as forthcoming with their donations as they used to be. We’ve been very lucky for a very long time, but now we have to reach out to more publishers, more vendors, and more individuals to garner half the prizes we used to have. Also, there are never any volunteers…aside from one or two individuals (Kerry, Irish)…who help solicit prizes.

Having fewer prizes this year was also a strategic move. No joke, sometimes it takes six months, the whole duration of time between Readathons, to get prizes squared away.

  • People forget to claim their prize for a few weeks
  • A lot of things have to happen in spreadsheets to pull all the info together for distribution to donors
  • Donors don’t notice the email alerting them to their winner(s)
  • Follow up has to happen when people contact us that they haven’t received their prize(s)

In short, we went for fewer prizes this year, but still great quality with an emphasis on e-gifts and “prize packs.”

A couple of years ago we did a very large survey after the Readathon and asked people to rate different parts of the event by importance, and prizes came in dead last. It seems that to the majority of us, READING and COMMUNITY are more important than prizes, and at the end of the day that gives us some solace if prizes just aren’t going right. In the  future, we may decide to phase them out, but because of the feedback you’ve given us, we know that wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

We thank you so much for being here for your love of reading and each other more than the love of swag. 

I also need to add an extra thank you to all of the individuals who consistently donate to this event. People like Ciska, Irish, Rachel, Katja, and Jenn (To name a few. So sorry to anyone I’m forgetting). Even when they don’t participate, they’re right there donating prizes and keeping a special eye on making sure our international participants have items to choose from.



12 thoughts on “Q&A: The Truth About Prizes”

  1. Awwwww – You almost made me cry. Thank you. <3

    For me, the prizes are such a small part of Dewey. It's not why I'm a part of it and it doesn't matter if I win or not. I love the reading and the community. The social part of the readathon is the most important for me. But I do get why other people thinks it fun and of course it it – Who doesn't like to win something? So I'm helping whereever I can and since Dewey will always have such a special place in my heart, it's not that hard to find just a little bit of donation and energy. Sometimes it's the smallest things that means the most.

  2. Thank you for all that you and this entire team does to spur us to read more and provide a fun place and times to do that. I would keep joining if you didn’t have ANY prizes. You all rock!!!

  3. I just noticed that my prize donation is wrong – it is listed as “International only” which makes very little sense to me, as I assumed “International” meant world wide 🙂 I’d be absolutely happy to ship to US and Canada as well.

    I’m Maria, and mine is the offer of a pair of handknit socks.

  4. To tell you the truth, I love winning prizes. BUT this is not the reason I am about to take part in Dewey’s for the ninth time. Because I love being part of a reading community even more and even if there were no prizes I would still take part year after year. I do not interact a lot during the RaT but it is a chance for my husband, me and my sister to just be in each others company reading and if anybody ask “shouldn’t you be doing something productive?” Then no we shouldn’t because we are part of this huge community who are all reading this weekend.

    I really appreciate all the work you put into organizing this event for us. Thank you.

  5. Few people realize how much work goes on behind the scenes to put the readathon together. Prizes are fun, but certainly not the high point of the readathon. I’ve participated many times without winning anything and it didn’t matter a bit. Thanks for your hard work and dedication.

  6. I look forward to this every April & October.It’s one of the most enjoyed days I have especially participating with my friends. Reading is one of my favorite past times. I hope everyone has a very awesome experience.

  7. I have to join the choir and say that while everyone loves winning prizes, it has no influence at ALL on the enjoyment and wonder that is the readathon! I’m personally joining for the 6th time for the community and sheer joy of reading with the rest of the world. The weekends of Dewey are genuinely up there with Christmas for me, and just as with Christmas, I’m not there for the presents, but for the warmth, good food (!) and most of all the joy!

  8. This is why everyone should offer digital gift cards—just enter someone’s email in and you’re done, no boxes or shipping involved. 😉

    No, but seriously. This event is about so much more than winning things. Sure, that adds a little bit of excitement into the mix, but the best part about Dewey’s is gathering so many readers together for a full day of nerding out over books. I know I’ve said it before, but I wouldn’t even be a part of the book blogging community is not for this event, and that is worth so much more than a free book.

    Love you ladies. Keep on rocking! <3

  9. Aww. Better fewer prizes than something more drastic like less readathons.

    But this reminds me that I never got my prize from the last readathon. I’ll have to figure out how to get in touch, although it’s not that big a deal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *