Re: I love used book sales
- From: "Evelyn C. Leeper" <eleeper@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008 08:51:24 -0400
Keith F. Lynch wrote:
David Harmon <bad@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:"Keith F. Lynch" <kfl@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote,I just got back from another used book sale. This one was at a
Catholic school in Maryland, about a mile from a Metro station.
There's going to be one here in Torrance CA this Saturday; you're
welcome to attend. Friends of the Library used Hardback book sale
Thanks, but that's a bit further than I care to hand-carry a hundred
pounds of books. I mean, what if I got caught in the rain on the long
walk home? The books would be ruined.
It's odd that they have separate sales for paperbacks and hardbacks.
No sale I've ever been to does it that way.
I found two surprising things in my take: One of the 42 books I
got for a total of $10 is over 150 years old. And one of the DVDs
I got is obviously pirated.
I assume you got all this on "Box and Bag Day", because around here even the cheapest prices wouldn't let you get that much.
The following is extracted from an article I just wrote for the MT VOID on book sales:
Well, book sale season is upon us and there seem to have been some major changes this year in the nature of "Friend of the Library" (FotL) book sales (and other fund-raising sales).
For example, many FotL sales now ban scanners. While some people seem to think the laser scanner is a liability issue, I tend to believe the people on the FotL boards who say that it is not that, and it is also not just the fact that "normal" patrons were upset that the dealers would grab huge quantities of books and then sit and scan them to see which were valuable. It's that after the dealers scanned the huge stacks of books they had taken, they would leave their rejects in a heap, and it would take the volunteers hours to re-sort them. And sometimes they would just commandeer some stretch of table space and inconvenience everyone else in the process as well.
Checking the book sales web site, I see many have also ended the preview sales as well. There has definitely been a conflict between dealers and "readers", with the latter increasingly annoyed over "preview" sessions in which dealers get a chance to cherry-pick the books. Oh, there was an admission charge for this, but what is $5 or $10 to a dealer who buys a few hundred dollars worth of books that they re-sell for five or ten times that much? On the other hand, it is a fair amount to people who want to buy a few books for themselves. In fact, the Bryn Mawr sale is so popular that while they still have preview admission, it is by lottery--they have decided either that there were too many dealers in any case, or that they were losing customers from the bulk of the sale because people felt the best items had been grabbed up already. But many FoTL sales found out that many people had stopped coming because the books were picked over. So they dumped the preview sale entirely, advertised this fact (most say "*not* picked over" in bold letters on their web sites), and discovered that they made *more* money this way.
This is also the reason for the higher prices ($1 for mass market paperbacks, rather than 50 cents, for example). Dealers can still get piles of books cheap, at least at the sales that have "Box and Bag Day" (though see the next paragraph!). But the sales have a chance to sell some of these at a better price to people who are more selective and not looking for stock to list for $.01 on amazon.com. (On the other hand, I find that the East Brunswick FotL pricing of *ex-library* mass market paperbacks at $1 is off-putting.)
Many sales have also either discontinued "Box and Bag Day" on the last day or put a size limit on the boxes and bags. I was talking about this to another patron at the Bryn Mawr sale and he said he had been there one year when someone had shown up with a *refrigerator* box on a dolly, which he filled for $5! The East Brunswick FotL does not have a "Box and Bag Day"; instead, non-profit organizations can make arrangements ahead of time to come after the sale closes and take what they want for free. (A friend says that she was at one sale where arrangements had been made to send large amounts of what was left to a prison library.)
Anyway, on to the particulars.
Last year I bemoaned the fact that the paperback prices had risen to $1 at the Bryn Mawr sale. This year they kept that, but also priced almost all trade paperbacks and hardbacks at $2 (as opposed to the individual pricing of previous years). This "unit pricing" makes their setting up the sale a lot faster, and avoids extra writing in books.
The East Brunswick FotL sale was very disappointing, for a couple of reasons. First of all, the mall has cut back on the space the sale can use by insisting that there be a wide walkway right through the center of the area. This seems to have cut down the number of tables by about a third. The result is a lot more boxes of books under the table at the start of the sale--and less room in the aisles for those trying to go hrough the boxes. Next, there was a lot of science fiction, but at least 90% of the paperbacks were "Star Trek" novels. So even if one could manage to go through the under-the-table boxes, it was hardly worth it (unless of course, you were looking for "Star Trek" novels). (I would suggest that any book sale that has this high a percentage of "Star Trek" novels might want to make a separate "Star Trek" section.) In any case, the cramped conditions, the enormous domination of "Star Trek" in their science fiction section, and the higher pricing make me really ambivalent about returning to this next year.
Evelyn C. Leeper
All art at some time and in some manner becomes mass entertainment,
and if it does not it dies and is forgotten. --Raymond Chandler
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