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 DQ…Imodium 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!