Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Book Sale Report Part I

I went to a big library book sale on Friday. This is an annual event and is one of the two largest weekend book sales in the United States. This sale had at least 500,000 books, so it is a very big deal. I always wonder how they manage to consistently have that many books, year after year. I am very fortunate to live near one of the largest book sales.

I do not venture out to antique shops very often anymore, because it is not worth it. I do check the thrift stores every few weeks, but I no longer find much there, either. I think the thrift stores must now sell their books directly to dealers. There is a chance that some of them could be disposing their books due to the lead law, but I could find no clear evidence of that when I checked my stores last week. Goodwill is the only one that may have removed older books, but then Goodwill never really had any good older books in the first place.

Since I do not purchase often from local stores, this book sale is the one event I have left. I have been quite nervous about it for the past month because of the lead law. I reasoned that they surely would use common sense because guidelines have been issued about it being okay to sell older books. Even so, I have had a nagging unsettled feeling about the lead law and whether it would affect the sale. I was not about to send an email to inquire, as I didn't want to give them any ideas. With the lead law, "don't ask, don't tell" seems to be the best course of action.

I always take the day off work to go to the sale. I got in line 6 hours and five minutes before the sale began. I always wait in line for the Collector's Choice portion of the sale. The better books are placed in the Collector's Choice section, which is in a different room from the general section. The books in Collector's Choice are individually priced, usually under $5.00.

I was 21st in line for the Collector's Choice portion of the sale. The line had well over 1,000 people in it by the time the doors opened. It is hard to estimate exactly how many people are in a line like that, and I did not bother to try to count.

Anticipation is most of the fun. I actually enjoy waiting in line, wondering what I will find. I never find anything truly spectacular, but I always keep that dream alive. This year I daydreamed about finding the first printing Old Clock with an intact first printing dust jacket or that one Linda Carlton book I need. Since I own so many books, my dreams are always for very rare books that never come up for sale.

I didn't find either one, but I will continue to keep that hope alive. The first printing of Old Clock with the first printing dust jacket is the number one book on my wish list, and the Linda Carlton book is the number one book on my wish list for books that I can realistically expect to eventually own. I have some doubt as to whether I will ever own that first printing dust jacket of Old Clock.

My favorite part of waiting in line for the sale is the final 15 minutes. The excitement reaches its peak as the announcer counts down the final ten sections. I also get increasingly nervous during the final 10 minutes of my wait, since I know that the mad frenzy is about to begin.

—to be continued

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