A Different Kind of Book Sale
By user12607856 on Sep 10, 2004
Last night, my wife and I went to the Los Altos Community Center for the Friends-Of-The-Library, library book sale for September. UnLike Palo Alto, which has a library book sale every month, Los Altos just does it three times a year. FOTL get two tickets to attend the special Friday evening event. The general library sale is open to the public on the Saturday and Sunday.
We arrived at about 6:20pm to get our place in line and to get a parking space close by. There were still about 30 people in front of us. Doors opened at 7:00pm. Even though it had cooled down considerably from the heat wave at the beginning of the week, it was still hot in there. No air conditioning and the fans were only useful if you were standing right in front of them. Lots of hot sweaty people in a confined space.
Books are arranged in flat wooden boxes on tables, divided into topics (cooking, gardening, science, computers, biographies, history, classics etc.). I initially headed over to the computer section as fast as I could to see what was available. Publishers have a tendancy to give "old" computer books to the library sale, (rather than pulp them), when a new version becomes available or the book is remaindered. You can often find two year old text books (complete with CDROM's) that have never been sold.
For this type of sale, you really do have to know what you want. If you don't grab it quickly, someone else probably will. You don't look at the prices. Everything will be a great bargain. You tend to get as many as you can carry, take them over to be priced, then take them to one of the cashiers, then take them out to the car. Then back into the sale. Rinse (or in our case, a good shower then we got home) and repeat.
We were in the sale about 90 minutes. I bought 35 books for $48. All books were priced between 50 cents and $3. I won't list them all, but some of the ones I'm pleased with finding are:
- The Elegant Universe - Brian Greene
- Hubble - A New Window to the Universe
- The Onion Ad Nauseam (Volume 14).
- The Constants of Nature - John D. Barrow
- Mac OS X - The Missing Manual - David Pogue. This is the Jaguar edition and I have Panther, but hopefully there will be something of use in there.
- Dynamic HTML - Danny Goodman
- Various books from Bill Bryson, Barbara Kingsolver, Steve Martin, John McPhee and Kim Stanley Robinson that I hadn't read.
- Where's Dan Quayle - an impulse buy. This is similar to the Where's Waldo books that my son loves.
This morning we'll head off to the Palo Alto library book sale. By the time we normally get there, the professional book-buyers have left and the initial frenzy of the first hour or two has gone. We'll have time to actually browse the books we want to buy, checking to see if we really want them. I notice that Palo Alto are also having their sale on Sunday this month for the first time. It'll be interesting to see if that's successful.
If you've never been to a library book sale before and you live in the Bay Area, I encourage you to go to either of these two sales today (see links above). If you enjoy reading, I'm certain you'll find lots of bargains there that'll you'll like.