ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Gov. Susana Martinez, known for touting support for local businesses, is taking heat from book dealers for going out of state for books handed out to every New Mexico first-grader.
The issue for local booksellers and publishers is not just that much of the $200,000 worth of books came from distant sources. They also say they're upset because they didn't even get a shot at the business.
"I'm very offended," Barbe Awalt of
LPD Press said. "The governor's office is not promoting local businesses, and they should."
For the recent book purchase, Martinez needed 30,000 books for her first-grade reading initiative. Some books
she delivered herself taking the time to read to the kids.
Ten thousand books were bought through UNM Press; the rest came from out of state.
"So we're sending tax money from New Mexico to Illinois and Arizona, and I don't see them coming here to buy books," Awalt said. "It makes me wonder if this is what's happening to the book community, is it also happening to other things, that they go outside of New Mexico?"
But the governor said this was not meant as a slight to New Mexico businesses. Instead, she said, it came down to who could get the most books in the shortest amount of time.
"We couldn't get any other books or any other publishers to publish 20,000 more books that could be distributed timely," Martinez said.
Awalt and others in the book community concede that order would be a tall task, but they said they weren't even considered for the job.
"We have very good vendor relationships with the large publishers that we work with,"
Bookworks Marketing Director Amy Lahtie said. "I could never guarantee that we would have been able to do it, but we definitely would have tried. We would have liked the opportunity to try."
The one thing everyone can agree on is that getting books into the hands of first-graders is a good idea.
The governor said they wanted some of the business to stay in state, which is why they bought as many books as UNM Press could supply. Those were twice as expensive as those from the out-of-state publishers, she said.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.