Sunday, May 19, 2013
May 18 & 19 - Greed and Gluttony at the Book Sale
Few things bring me as much joy as a "Fill a bag with Books for $5.00" sale. I look forward to these every year. They typically mark the last day of a used book sale, when the sellers are eager to get rid of their inventory rather than having to pack it all up and haul it away again. Can you blame them?
Knowing how fast the premier titles can go, I always go to the book sale the day before to buy the books I think I can't live without and to scope out the rest. It's good to know where to start.
So yesterday was relaxed and leisurely. I took my time browsing through books, reading inside jacket covers and getting a lay of the land. It was a nice way to spend an hour or so.
Today's bag sale was more brutal. It's hard to believe that a library's used book sale could bring out the worst in people, but it does. Year after year after year. It never fails to amaze me.
I got there early. I always do. It's part of the experience to be lined up at the door. I didn't have the wheeled carts that many people bring, nor the milk crates that they sometimes tether to their walkers and wheelchairs. Used books are a serious business.
I stood there in line; the fourth person. I saw school librarians I knew from my days working at Scholastic Book Fairs, and I saw my own childhood school librarian. Not surprisingly, I was the youngest one in line.
And yet, when the doors opened, the old men and women standing behind me rushed the doors with their carts and milk crates. I ended up being about the 20th person through the gate. They stampeded over to the used CDs, DVDs, and audio books and grabbed up hands full at a time without even bothering to look at the titles. Within minutes, six long 12-foot tables stocked with electronic media were completely emptied. Then they turned and chewed their way through the books like termites.
I managed to fill my bag with individually-selected books that I intend to read. By the time I left, the tables were emptying, too. Most of the patrons bought far more bags than they could carry. But I guess that's the nature of the bag sale, isn't it? Gobbling us as much as you can until next year -- when I'm sure to see the same characters again.