Friday, February 26, 2010

2010 Book Sale Report Part 2

I took my place in line at approximately 12:03 PM on Friday. The line forms in the foyer of one of the buildings at the state fairgrounds. The floor is concrete, and most of us bring our own chairs so that we do not have to sit on the floor. The floor is always cold.

Despite the abnormally cold winter we have been having, the weather from Wednesday through Friday was pretty good and near normal. As a result, I was not nearly as cold as I have been most years during the hours of waiting for the sale to begin. I usually have to wear my gloves because my hands are so cold. Since I was not cold, the wait was fairly pleasant.

The sale is divided into two different rooms. I always wait in line on the collector's choice side, where the books are better and are priced individually. I was around the 40th person in line, and most of the people in front of me were the usual dealers and collectors who arrive early each year just like me.

Our library book sale is one of the largest book sales in the United States. The weekend news stated that the sale is the biggest book sale in the country. I doubt that it is the very biggest, but I am confident that it is one of the top five sales in the county. The sale has around 500,000 books for sale each year. I am always amazed that year after year, the sale always has the same large quantity of books. I feel so fortunate to live near such a sale.

The sale is always free on Saturdays and Sundays, but Friday is always the presale party, and the cost is $10.00 for four tickets. The people who wait until Saturday morning to attend are unaware that all of the good books are sold first thing Friday night.

I actually enjoy waiting in line for 5 1/2 hours. The anticipation builds as 5:30 approaches. It is fun to watch the line get longer and longer and know that I am near the front of a line that ultimately will contain several thousand people.

I take luggage on wheels to the sale, and to me, this is the easiest way to store and transport my books. Some people take shopping carts, which are too bulky, strollers, or dollies. I like my luggage because I can have it zipped mostly shut so that people cannot see exactly what I have already found. I am very possessive about my finds.

Right before 5:30 PM, the announcer counted down the final seconds to the sale. Once the doors opened, the line began filing in. It took probably around 30 to 40 seconds before I made it in the door. As each of us passed through the door, we were walking, but we quickly increased in speed. My goal was to reach the far end of the building where the old books were located as fast as I could. Once I had a clear path, I began to jog. As I approached the far wall, I slowed down to a walk. What is great is that the 40 of us who were in first all went to different locations. We each had first pick at whatever we sought!

Here is a big secret: all of the best books are grabbed within the first five minutes of the sale. It is quite an adrenaline rush, and it is the best fun I have all year!

I quickly scanned the shelves. Sometimes the volunteers are very helpful by placing like books together. This time, the series books were mixed in together with all of the other old children's books, so my task was a little harder. It was not that hard, since the books were contained in just two bookshelves that were side-by-side. I spotted some Bobbsey Twins books with jackets from the 1940s and grabbed them.

I was nervous because a book dealer and his helper were near, and the helper was asking which readers to grab. After receiving instructions, the helper proceeded to quickly clear a couple of shelves of readers, which the volunteers had placed all together. Meanwhile, I was glad that the dealer wanted the readers, and I continued to scan the two shelves. I found a few Nancy Drew books with jackets as well as a Ruth Fielding in jacket. I found a couple of Lone Ranger books and a bunch of Trixie Belden books. I scanned again and decided to dash for the front of the building. I had no time to spare!

When I reached the front section of children's books, I found some picture cover books. I found a couple of Applewood Nancy Drew books with jackets and a bunch of the Twin Thriller editions. As soon as I felt like I had gotten what was there, I returned to the shelves in the back. I spotted a few books that I missed the first time, a couple of Black Stallion books, which I do not collect.

When I look at books, I do not read the titles. If you've read my "Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew" posts, you know that I rely heavily on the outside appearance of books in order to guess the age of the books. I use a similar approach when hunting books in person. Since books are usually shelved with only the spines visible, I rely on the familiar spine designs, which allows me to find what I want extremely fast. Who cares which title it is? I have time to worry about that later.

Since I am not as familiar with the way the jackets look for the Black Stallion books, I did not notice them the first time. After I was done looking, I swung by the table that had books from the 1800s, just in case an old series book might be there. No such luck, so I decided that I was done.

Only around 12 minutes had passed. The end of the line had still not finished filing in, and the best part of the sale was over.

I took a few minutes to look inside the covers of my books to make certain that the prices were not too high. Last year, I had some unpleasant surprises. As I quickly checked my books, I estimated what my total would be. I joined the checkout line; actually, I took my place at the front of the line. Only a few people had checked out. I was sent to a cashier, and I checked out.

Here are the books I bought on the collector's choice side of the sale:

I then took my books to my car and prepared to enter the general section of the sale.

—to be continued


Paula said...

So exciting - you have it down pat! I know I could not be as fast as you are - it takes lots of experience!

Jenn said...

How fun--almost makes me wish I'd gone to the big VNSA sale here in Phoenix--but standing in line in the cold at 3am until 8am wasn't my desire this year. And that places me about 400th or so back in line--most dealers/people start getting there about midnight the night before--uggh :)

There was a book sale in Lubbock--library sale that I'd get in line at around 5 to 6 am and it opened around 9am i think, that wasn't too bad a wait.


beautifulshell said...

Yay to the Black Stallion books - that was my favorite series when I was a kid!