Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Thought - Library Book Sales!

I love library book sales. Spring is library book sale season, which is why my posting has been so limited for the last few weeks. All Spring long I get incoming waves of books that need to be sorted, cleaned up, added to my master spreadsheet, and then cataloged on LibraryThing, which takes up a substantial chunk of my spare time. The downside of this book bonanza is that I end up getting behind on my reading and reviewing this time of year. I know, I could simply not make the rounds of the book sales, but that is just crazy talk.

The weekend before last I went to the Centreville Library book sale and made out reasonably well getting 81 books including 38 hardbacks. This past weekend I went to the Purcellville Library book sale and picked up 89 book, although only 17 were hardbacks. These are actually fairly modest hauls for me, as owning almost 8,000 is making it harder to find books in my preferred genres that I don't already own. I usually make an effort to try to avoid unnecessarily buying duplicate copies of the same book, but even so, I ended up with quite a few these past two weekends. Because there are usually a lot of people at these sales, I try to move through the stacks quickly so as to not be in the way of other patrons and prefer to err on the side of getting a book if I'm not sure whether I have it or not, resulting in a fair amount of unintentional duplicate purchases. That said, I sometimes intentionally purchase duplicates of books that I know I own if I find a copy that is in particularly good condition or if I find a hardback version and I only have a mass market paperback.

For me, the best part of a library book sale is the hunt: looking through boxes and boxes of books and pulling out the ones that look good, and the joy of finding a copy of a book that you've been wanting for a while. When I go to a library sale I always go without looking for a any particular book, because like a used book store, you can never be sure what they will have, but when I get lucky and find something I've been wanting, or come across an obscure science fiction title from the 1950s that I had never heard of before, it makes me feel unreasonably happy. The second best part is that you can get books ridiculously cheap: I have gotten books at library book sales for as little a a quarter of a cent each. The books I got these past two weeks weren't quite that cheap - averaged out, I spent just under $1.00 per book - but they were still a great deal.

If you love books you should go to your local library book sales. You will get some good books and the money you spend will go to help out your local library. If you don't know when your local libraries have their book sales, you should find out and try to go.

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  1. wow, 8,000 books? Library booksale purchaes of over 80?? i am jealous!

    my numbers are about 1/10th that, as i just don't have room to put anymore books. the library closest to where I live has a "friends of library bookstore" in the basement, and I troll that place all the time, and the suburban library that's about a half hour from me does a once quarterly massive booksale that takes over the entire basement.

    I know you are allowed to bring tote bags to fill up, or purchase a paper grocery bag for a fixed price and fill it with books, but I usually limit myself to whatever i can carry in my arms.

    and yes, the best part is certainly the hunt! my favorite room is where it's just cardboard boxes full of books to be gone thru, it's a treasure hunt, and the search is part of the treasure.

  2. @redhead: The current count is actually 7,740 books, but that doesn't include the books I talked about in this post. Once I get those entered in, the total will go up to about 7,900, although I will likely exceed 8,000 within the next month or two.

    Most of the library sales around here have a sort of sliding scale for pricing. On the first day or two of their annual sale you buy books individuals, usually for between $0.50 and $2.00 each, but on the last day, or the last two hours of the day, or whatever, they have a bag sale where you can buy as many books as you can stuff into a bag for a fixed price of $5.00 or $10.00.

  3. Hi. We just visited the Charlottesville library book sale, and it was utterly delightful. Really, though in reality it all adds up quickly, it's like getting Christmas gifts for free, the prices are so great. I feel like a little kid digging around under a Christmas tree, opening presents at will and carrying off my favorites. I have to limit myself to two or three sales each spring and fall, but they are one of the most delightful things we do. And then there are the CDs. I have found the most beautiful classical music, and the most obscure of my favorite artists. Delight.