Tag Archives: book sales

Ten Commandments of Book Sales…

Having just returned from two large spring book sales, I feel compelled to provide this handy guide to behaviour at such events:

1. Thou shalt arrive early.  Due to a stop at the Dairy Queen in Sussex for supper, we were half an hour late late getting to the University Women’s Book Fair in Moncton this year…consequently, I fear that many of the best books had already been scooped up by other dealers (I also paid dearly the next morning for the chicken sandwich I ate at DQImodium was my best friend for a couple of hours).  For the Saint John Free Public Library Book Sale, I was there at 9:15 a.m. (the sale opened at 10) staking out the local/New Brunswick table.  I stood right next to the table, knowing that if I was on the other side of the aisle, that someone would get in front of me!  Unfortunately, my old nemesis, Witchy-Poo, also came early, and attempted to engage me in conversation (nosy old bat!).

2. Thou shalt not peek under the table covers.  As I was waiting for the appointed opening hour at the library sale, I noticed a man pretending to “adjust” the table cover on the table I’d staked out…if looks could kill, he’d be dead right now!

3. Thou shalt not block the tables or aisles whilst carrying on idle chit-chat.  Look around you…there could be a woman with a crazed look in her eye trying to make her way to the table you’re standing in front of (yup…that would be me!).

4. Thou shalt leave small children at home.  No one enjoys having their shins or ankles rammed by strollers, or listening to children whine or cry.  Letting them rummage through boxes of books they have absolutely no interest in is inviting the possibility of torn pages or dustjackets, which will not endear you to your fellow shoppers.

5. Thou shalt put books thou doesn’t want back where thou found them.  Most sales are organized by volunteers, who have spent hours sorting thousands of donations into appropriate categories.  Leaving a Harlequin romance on the “Collectibles” table makes people like me angry and creates extra work for the organizers!

6. Thou shalt not bring coffee or food to a book sale.  Picking up a book which is sticky or coffee-stained is very disappointing (and the book is pretty much unsaleable once it has fallen victim to a careless caffeine consumer)!

7. Thou shalt not stagger around balancing huge piles of books.  Get an empty box from under one of the tables, and push it along the floor in front of you as you go.

8. Thou shalt not steal.  Most book sales are charity events…do not help yourself to items with no intention of paying for them.  Hope came out of the washroom at the University Women’s sale with a handful of tampons, which she then offered to Anna…”They’re not dinner mints!” Anna exclaimed in horror.

9. Thou shalt not haggle.  The prices are already a fraction of the actual value of the book…that extra dollar will not cause the bank to foreclose on your home!  The people taking the money are not being paid to argue with you either.

10. Thou shalt shop with bills smaller than $20.  Charitable organizations have enough to do without having to run to the bank to get change because some numbnuts tries to give them a $100 bill for a $2 book!

Following these ten simple commandments will make your next book sale experience more pleasurable for all!

I was happy with our purchases at the two sales, netting roughly $1000 worth of books for the $110 we spent…my best find was a newer book on secular effigies from the 13th century, which I will list online for $80.  Jim was happy to get several expensive computer textbooks for $2 each…some of them were still shrinkwrapped!  Anna and Hope each got a stack of reading material too.

The next sale is the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Book Sale this summer…can’t wait!

Update: This post was Freshly Pressed on May 9th…my third honour from the editors at WordPress…thank you!


Filed under books, family, rants, satire, shopping

Of Broccoli, Baby Showers, Book Sales, and Back-To-School Shopping…

1. Broccoli. On Saturday night, I harvested our very first broccoli from the garden.  I made a tasty broccoli/cheese frittata with it for supper, along with a salad made with our lettuce and tomatoes, and cucumbers (from the store).

Fresh Organic Broccoli...

Broccoli/Cheese Frittata...

Saturday's tomato harvest before I cut them up for salad...

Other firsts from the garden this weekend were carrot and rutabaga…we had them tonight.  I love rutabaga – it’s a mild flavour, especially good with butter and salt and pepper…it’s my new favourite vegetable.

Our first Scarlet Nantes carrot...

This Gilfeather rutabaga tasted a lot better than it looks!

2. Baby Shower.  On Sunday, the girls and I went to my oldest daughter’s best friend’s baby shower.  One of the games Kaylee came up with for her friend’s shower was melting chocolate bars in the microwave, and then inserting them into numbered disposable diapers.  The shower guests were then asked to pass them around, examine them, smell them, and even taste them (!) and try to determine which chocolate bar was in each diaper…I don’t think I’ll be eating “Crispy Crunch” again any time soon…

My middle daughter, Anna, won that game, and also two other prizes because she got the “marked” plate and the marked cup!  The macaroni salad she and Hope made got rave reviews too!

3. Book sales.  This morning when I got to the store, I totalled up my haul from the Sussex Flea Market – I spent $53 Canadian, and got just over $575 U.S. worth of books.  I went to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Book Sale at Brunswick Square today, and spent $25 Canadian, and came away with almost $340 U.S. in treasures (and I saw “Witchy-Poo” before she saw me, and escaped!).  I put $100 on one book I bought – if it had the Andy Warhol-designed dustjacket, it would have been worth at least $250! 

The books continue to come into the store faster than we can get to them…four more banana boxes came in while I was at the book sale this morning (these were added to the nine boxes we already had from last week).  I jokingly complained to the guy that brought the four boxes that I’d just stopped having to do hurdles to get to my desk (Dad took the extra books to our new bigger storage space before the Open House).  I also have four boxes of books to photograph for the Internet…coming back from vacation is tough!

4. Back to School Shopping.  This afternoon, Anna and I went to the mall to pick up some school supplies (and a new pair of flats for her).  Hope skipped the trip, preferring to hang out with her friend.  Our bus ride to the mall was not fun: some teenager sat behind us playing his music without headphones, and singing badly along with it (the same song, over and over).  In between, he was on his phone, telling everybody who would listen about getting beaten up last night:  “They cracked my head open, I got a concussion, the inside of my mouth is all messed up, and I’ve got four bruised ribs,” he bragged.  I was ready to add to his injuries by the time I’d heard the story for the third time!

We got to the mall, and Anna found a pair of shoes (not flats) that she liked and that fit within the first half hour (it’s a miracle!).  We also bought Hope a Justin Bieber T-shirt that Anna claimed she would “love” (when Hope opened the bag, she announced it was just like the one she just bought, except for the colour – FAIL!).  We went to Zellers for school supplies…the first thing we saw was lined paper for $2.99 for 400 sheets.  That sounded pretty good to me…I loaded four packs into the cart (one for each kid).  We picked up mechanical pencils, whiteout, highlighters, Sharpies, dividers, and some notebooks, and then continued to another section of the store where signs told us there were more school supplies.  That’s where I spotted the display of lined paper that was $.39 for 150 sheets.  I ditched the other paper (I admit that I just put it with the cheap paper instead of where it was!), and picked up a dozen of the smaller packs (three for each kid).  Anna picked out expensive scissors, impossibly-priced erasers (“But they’re so cute, Mom!”), and a zebra-print pencil case that cost $6!  We found a couple of binders for Hope (Anna still had hers from last year)…they were purple, so I figured she would like them (wrong again! – “Mom, I can’t have hard binders!”).  We managed to tick off almost everything on the list except the 10 duotangs that Hope needed, and the bag that Anna wanted (none of them was the “right size,” which translated means “not expensive enough”).  I also picked up some Charmin toilet paper on sale (I’m usually not a brand-name girl, but Charmin rocks), some red Twizzlers (one of my favourite snacks) and a couple of things for Elise’s first birthday next month…

We went to the checkout, and emptied our cart…I had predicted it would be $150, and Anna said $200…we were both wrong: it was only $119!  The next shopping trip will be with Hope to get her pants and shoes for gym…


Filed under books, cooking, family, food, gardening, rants, shopping

Scanning for Gold at Book Sales…

I love the month of May…it is easily my favourite!  The weather is more summerlike, trees and flowers begin blossoming, and it’s time to plant the garden.  It’s also book sale season – I love scouting for our store!

Tomorrow night, Jim and I will travel to Moncton for the Canadian Federation of University Women’s 48th Annual Book Fair (the Fredericton Chapter will hold theirs on May 28th and 29th).  Friday morning, Dad and I (and the kids – they’re off school on Friday), will be in line for the annual Saint John Free Public Library Book Sale.  Hope will be shopping for herself, but Anna will be helping us find the good stuff!

I haven’t been to the Moncton sale since I’ve had the bookstore, so I’m not sure what to expect…I’m hoping for great things!  The sale is held in a Curling Club in the neighbourhood I used to live in before moving to Saint John (we’ll be stopping to visit old friends for tea after we buy books!).

Venue for the Moncton sale...

The plan at any book sale is to be one of the first people through the door…there is a lot of competition for good books!  Lining up an hour before the doors open is not unheard of.  The library sale is held in an open area outside the library – tables are covered with cloths which are lifted at the appointed opening time.  My strategy there is to stake out the first table I want to look at.

People have different ideas about how to carry their treasures: I usually bring 3 or 4 sturdy cloth shopping bags, while my dad brings his wheeled luggage cart with cardboard boxes attached with bungee cords.

I'll be bringing this bag to the sale...

Another hint for book-salers: wear sturdy shoes – you’ll be lucky if you get through the sale without your foot being run over by a stroller wheel, or even a wheelchair.  I have also been smacked in the shins by these vehicles.

This one has double wheels in the front for more crushing power, and two kids to make it hurt more...

We have certain things we look for when buying stock for the store – just because a book is old doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valuable (Mary Roberts Rinehart was a bestselling author in 1910 – you can still buy her hundred-year-old books for a couple of bucks).  Condition, rarity, and sometimes subject matter also affect the value.  I look for quality bindings, unusual publishers, offbeat subjects, and anything local.  Nothing makes my heart beat faster than finding a British binding from the 1880’s with gilt decoration and gilt-edged pages!  And you can bet that if I find a book on Ukranian cuckoo clocks, it won’t take very long to sell on the Internet…

The kind of binding I love to find...

I avoid popular fiction (although book sales are a perfect place for readers to pick up current fiction at a small fraction of the crazy cover prices that bookstores charge for new books now), Reader’s Digest condensed books (they make excellent firestarters or doorstops), Book Club Editions (even old ones), and encyclopedias.  You generally have to work hard to separate the wheat from the chaff!

Just say "NO!" to these lepers of the book world...

One thing that we’ve discovered about the library sale in particular is that they restock throughout the sale…it’s a good idea to make 3 or 4 visits if you have time. 

Here are some suggestions for book sale etiquette:

1. Keep to the right of the aisle.  Don’t block the aisle while you stand talking to your friend.

2. Keep your hands off other people’s books…if I have a pile in front of me, they’re mine!  By the same token, if I’m going through books, please be polite enough to wait until I’m finished before diving in.

This lady's got the right idea in protecting her pile...can't say much about her reading taste, though...

3. Be reasonable when sifting through the stock…most sales try to keep some kind of organization to the tables.  If you put a book on Egyptian art back into the cookbook section, you’re wasting someone’s time!

4. Leave small children at home.  They’ll be bored, and in danger of being trampled.

5. Don’t bring coffee or food into the sale.  The chance of spillage is directly related to the rarity of the book you set your cup down on.

This is a $75 book...I wonder how much it would have been had some numbnuts not set his drink on it...

6. Don’t ask volunteers to hold books for you if you don’t intend to buy them.  There might be something I want in your “hold” pile.

7. Don’t dicker.  Most book sales are charity events – that extra dollar won’t break you! 

8. Don’t pull out a hundred-dollar bill for $5 worth of books…you’re not at Walmart!

I’m hoping to come back with some gems this weekend…happy hunting at your local book sales this spring!


Filed under books, shopping