Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why I Love the Library Book Sale

I've often lamented the lack of used book stores in the Ohio Valley. There's something to be said about the often eclectic selection of works in used book stores. You can find out-of-print books, older editions, obscure gems the bigger chains won't sell, and even a few newer releases only slightly more bruised than fresh copies, often for less than a third of the cost of a new book.

Enter the library book sale. I'm ashamed to admit that I had no idea this sale existed until I joined the library staff in February. If I'd known, my personal collection would be much fatter than it currently is. The sale runs twice a year for two weeks. During the sale, we transform the library auditorium into a miniature used book store with shelves and boxes crammed full of as many books as we can fit.

The book sale's Juvenile and Young Adult sections.

It's a bit messy, but it's a beautiful mess. Each shelf holds so many possibilities. I wasn't sure what I'd find for myself when I went digging through the boxes, but I came away with more than I expected. I bought eight books in total: five small paperbacks, two hardbacks, and one larger paperback.

My book sale haul as it currently stands. Not pictured: a first American edition of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion that I bought for a good friend.

These books ranged in year of publication from 1975 (King's 'Salem's Lot) to 2008 (Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain). A few, like King's 'Salem's Lot, were books I'd been looking to read for years. Others, like Dead Until Dark, were curiosities, the sort of books I'd pause to peruse in a chain bookstore but inevitably pass by for lack of funds. With paperbacks costing only $0.25 and hardbacks just $1.00, funds were no longer an issue. I snapped up every book that caught my eye without a moment's hesitation. It was a pretty liberating experience. I'm used to deliberating over a bookstore's selection for at least half an hour, trying to decide which two or three books I'll take home with me. It's nice to just snap up an armful and go.

These mass-market paperbacks, usually sold somewhere between $8 and $10, are $0.25 per book at the library book sale.

In the end, I spent a total of $4.00, roughly half the cost of a single mass-market paperback. $4.00 for hours upon hours of entertainment and the chance of adding something new to my favorite books list? Sold! Now all I need to do is clear out my backlog of library books, and I'll be ready to go.

This might take a while.

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