It’s April—the time when used book sale season starts in earnest! And I’m fresh back from one this afternoon! If I had more money and access to my own transportation, I would definitely be a used book sale freak. As it is, I have to pick and choose what I attend, and once there I sometimes have to be picky and choosy as well.
Used book sale shopping is so much fun! Check online at your local library’s website to see when they have their next sale. You may be lucky to have access to several libraries in your area. Sometimes other groups and societies hold book sales, not just libraries. It’s also a good idea to call ahead and ask questions. Find out: what days and times the sale is being held; how big they expect it to be; what their prices are; and how often do they have book sales – is it once a year, or several times a year? I find the libraries that host several throughout the year usually don’t seem to have very big ones, and therefore, not as good a selection, either. If you are a member or Friend of your local library (I call them the Library Quakers), you also get early bird access (first dibs) and special prices.
Perhaps the most important question of all: Do they offer a bag or box sale near the end of the event? This is when you get the really good deals! All you can stuff in a bag for anywhere from $2-$5.00! If the sale has one of these deals, you can bet it probably is a bigger sale and worth your while.
The particular sale I went to today was the district’s first annual sale, reported to be 10,000 media item-big. Not being able to afford the prices, I showed up this afternoon for the tail end bag sale– $5.00 for a bag. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I find different libraries tend to take on certain personalities when it comes to their sales. One library I know of usually only has contemporary authors, most commonly Danielle Steele and John Grisham, so I don’t find a whole lot. I’ll bet it’s the Lib. Quakers who have taken all the good ones by the time I’ve gotten to them! My closest library has small sales in their basement, but I usually find 3 or 4 classics of interest. Today’s sale was huge, even after 2 previous days of being picked over. The helpers even gave me a map to find my way through the tables of genres! I found many on the Christian fiction contemporary authors table that I’ve been wanting to read, but not much in the way of classics. You can quickly tell when the spines are all new and the titles are in block letters or italics. Classics usually have a more serious look, or are faded vintage books.
I usually prioritize what I’m looking for. If there is a classics table, I head there first, since they are quickly picked over. Classic lovers are a very serious and die-hard bunch! Then, if there is a Christian contemporary fiction table, that’s second. Lovers of this genre usually know their authors pretty well. Regular fiction is next, and although it’s a little harder for me to find what I’m interested in, it can be worth it. Sometimes books from other genres can get mixed in by accident. I blush to be caught in the romantic novel area, but believe it or not, that’s where I once found my Anne of Green Gables series and one of my Dorothy L. Sayers mysteries! Sometimes just because a book is small and paperback, it will wind up in this section automatically. And don’t underestimate the children’s section. You may just find a few worthy classics hidden in there.
Things are a jumble at a used book sale! If you find a book to a particular series, look around nearby for others that go with it. If you find books to go in a series that you already have some of at home, isn’t it sad splitting up their siblings? I always feel terrible…
Don’t forget to bring your notebook with you (and don’t forget and leave it there!). I have a pretty good memory, which serves me well in spying out different authors and titles, but I cannot remember every single book I want to read, nor can I always remember which books in a series I already own.
When a sale promises to be one where I’m apt to pig out (i.e., overspend) if I’m not careful, I have to make sure that all the books I’ve grabbed are ones I really want. I usually think this out by questioning if this is a book readily available at the library. Sure, it’s a book I’ve been wanting to read, but for how long? Am I pretty certain I’d like it? Or is it one I repeatedly see at sales and I could stand to wait until another day to indulge? I usually don’t like buying books that are in the middle of a series when I don’t have the other ones to go with it. I could spend years and years trying to collect the rest of it’s family.
If it’s a sale where I’m not finding anything, or if it’s a bag sale where I still have room in my bag for more, I allow myself to get books that I may already own, but I like this one’s cover better.
I always make sure I pick and choose with care. In book sale shopping, I’m building my own home library. I want my shelves to be filled with only the most fun, interesting, and healthiest worlds possible! (Plus, I’m running out of shelf space…)
At the end of the day, I ended up getting 23 items for 22 cents each. A great way to have cheap fun in today’s economy!
Okay, why don’t I just buy all the books I want off of amazon? For one simple reason: even if I had the money…. IT’S NO FUN! There’s something about having easy access to everything you want that takes all the treasure-hunt excitement out of it. I’d rather search through rows and rows of dizzying books, and stand on my head in the heat just to sort through my 33rd box of books and rejoice over “that book I’ve been waiting years to find!” Then I trot off home to my beloved bookcase, write my name and the date proudly on the title page (alongside it’s 3 previous owners’ signatures), record in my notebook which new ones I have acquired (for reference at the next book sale), and place my new precious finds on the shelves, nestling them alphabetically. I hope they get along okay with the older books they’ve split up. Hey- some of my old books have formed strong bonds, having sat happily cover to cover with each other, comfortable and undisturbed for years, and to have some “young whippersnapper of a paperback” come along and wedge their way between them could have some of them quite grumpy! Oh no—I hope none of my books had formed romantic attachments… That would be quite tragic!
Today’s fiction finds (for the record):
“Silk,” by Linda Chaikin
“Glastonbury,” by Donna Fletcher Crow
“Conspiracy in Kiev,” by Noel Hynd
“The Silent Governess,” by Julie Klassen
“She Walks in Beauty,” by Siri Mitchell
“Just Jane,” by Nancy Moser
“Somewhere a Song,” by Judith Pella
“Allah’s Fire,” by Chuck Holton and Gayle Roper
“The Brushstroke Legacy,” by Lauraine Snelling
“The Memory Book,” by Penelope Stokes
“The Treasure Box,” by Penelope Stokes
“Heiress,” by Susan May Warren
“The Narrow Door at Colditz,” by Robert L. Wise