Thursday, August 28, 2008

From Dog Days to Used Book Sales

The weather has continued to be fantastic. I wish this weather wouldn't end. However, we all know the dog days of summer are gone and fall is around the corner. A little trivia for you--the term dog days of summer originated from ancient lore when Sirus, the dog star, used to rise and set with the sun during the hottest days of summer, hence the name. People in those days supposedly thought the star was causing the heat.

In spring we are excited to see the first robin and everything turning countless shades of green. As fall gets closer, we are kind of sad when we see that first leaf change color--not because of beautiful autumn but because of what follows. Well, let's live in the present and enjoy what we have now which looks like a wonderful last fling of summer, Labor Day weekend.

One thing that has become a fall tradition with us are several local used book sales. Now we need more books like we need another chipmunk hole in our yard, yet there is something about the lure of a book--the smell of the aged pages, the thrill of the hunt for one by your favorite author or a nonfiction one that covers a topic that interests you. We often look for books that we think family members might also enjoy.

We now have a routine going to four book sales in the fall. We don't assume that it is luck that they are on different weekends. The first one is the biggest and the best if you are looking for a particular book. All the sales we go to are good at categorizing the books (and by the way, there are often video tapes, audio tapes, Cds, DVDs and puzzles and games too).

Through our experiences we have learned to go the last day of the sale. Each of the sales that we go to charge per bag at that point. They just want to get rid of them. One place actually gave them away for free, just put a donation in the jar.

We have been disappointed when we see people who are obviously dealers, come in and just take all the books on one subject. They don't even look at each title and browse like we do. They have their cars backed up near the door to load box after box. Then there are ones with some kind of hand held scanner that they look up something about the book. I try not to watch the others too much but concentrate on my task of weeding through the titles to find one that catches my eye. The other "weeders" may hear you mention to your co-hunter that you found a book by "so and so" and then if they see one by that author, they may point it out to you. It's a nice camaraderie when someone else realizes the joy of finding just the right book. Some people are just focused on their own hunt. We usually like the leisurely pace except for the one year when we were quite focused with list in hand of titles and authors that our teacher daughter wanted for her classroom.

The first sale is the biggest--75,000 books! It is also the most expensive at the per bag price, but even that is a bargain (around $8.00). The following week is much smaller at only 10,000 books (and cheaper price). Then we have the medium size one that usually practically gives them away. A couple of weeks later we finish it up with a little fair combined with a little book sale. That one is so small that it is hard to find a book to buy. The other ones, I force myself to stuff a bag. We have become proficient at packing paper bags with books of various sizes to the max. It's kind of like Tetris--to get the max potential of your paper bag, some books lay flat, but others need to go vertical. Sometimes you may want to dump them out and start again to achieve the ultimate maximum capacity. Then the only problem is carrying the bag without ripping it.

If there just isn't enough books of interest to completely fill the bag, I "top it off" with books to bring to the book swap at my little post office (shh...don't tell anyone). I have a tiny community corner which includes a book swap. It has gone over well.

So, besides the wonderful New England autumn to look forward to in all its beauty and fresh breezes and smell of apple orchards, we will be looking forward to our favorite used book sales. Now, I know I did not name the sales or locations. I want to make you aware of a wonderful website for anyone in the United States to find local used book sales. It is You simply click on your state and you will receive a wealth of information regarding book sales--more than you ever knew existed.

I hope that you will have the time to settle down with a good book (or a bag full) this autumn.

No comments: