Score at a Book Sale

book sale

I will irreverently say that when I thought about writing this post and that it might prevent me from getting awesome books, I contemplated not posting it. I have a serious book addiction. There’s seasoned veterans that these events, like me, who will do anything to get the best books first.

Book Sale Extravaganza! 

Tips to get the best haul possible

Get there early. You’re competing with retirees that have a lot of time on their hands and most likely wake up before the crack of dawn. Just because the start time is posted at 9 a.m., those old birds are there, swooping in on the good stuff before it starts (Fayetteville is NOTORIOUS for this). Personally, if I ever ran a book sale, I would make them stand behind a starting line and shoot off a gun to start the festivities.

Bring a bag. Make sure books fit in it (amateur mistake #1) properly for maximum stackage. You want something that isn’t going to cut into your shoulder that can pack a ton. I use a religious tote I got at a blogger party. I am not religious at all, mind you, it’s just the perfect size. The books fit in so that way the stack correctly, so as not to damage them, and allow for room to slide in over-sized numbers on the sides. You never want to stack books page-end down. Ever. Always give it cover and binding to rest on.
Bring bills. Book sales do not take cards so don’t be the doofus who shows up without cash. Bring bills of small denominations  mostly ones and fives, because they probably will be loaded with twenties and will love you for the small bills. And might miscount your stack for that reason. On that account, books are usually sold by the number, not by individual value.

Know what to look for. Learn reader’s club bindings. Those are the bane of book sales (did you know they’re not actually the books but are cut down and rewritten for their audience?). Sometimes books are sorted into sections, like fiction and non-fiction, mystery and children’s . In these times, go for the old books first as these are usually the coolest. Complete Stories of Opera? Don’t mind if I do! Hello, The Best American Jokes published in 1921.

Don’t skip over the crap. There is a LOT of crap at book sales that no one ever wants. It’s only good for cutting the pages out and making secret flask containers. However, sometimes, tucked away among the really awful stuff there is sometimes hidden treasure. After doing the rounds on your favorite categories, check out the other areas.

Choose wisely. You probably can’t buy it all. Pick it up anyway and go through your stack after making the rounds. Make sure you really want everything you have, inspect them for missing pages, and hold on tight to the ones you really love. Old ladies will swoop at the first chance they get to steal away any treasures you leave unsupervised. Seriously, it does happen.

Be kind. More than anything, if you’re a book sale aficionado, you know how damn annoying those old ladies can be. They read through every title very slowly, jamming with your book buying jive. They get in the way or grab things, absentmindedly, that you’ve been searching out for ages. Don’t trash talk them until you leave. Just because they’re hard of hearing doesn’t mean they won’t hear insults.

photo via Lester Public Library

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1 Comment

  • Reply gina November 16, 2012 at 12:26 am

    I don’t do well at book sales. Actually, I don’t do well at book stores or libraries for that matter. I have a hard time picking out books {hence the trouble picking a classic}. I think I rely too much on word of mouth and reviews instead of checking out the book.

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