Friday, October 03, 2008

How to Prepare for a Library Booksale

With our local library booksale coming up -- the preview sale tonight and the all-out sale tomorrow -- I thought I'd share some thoughts on practical ways to prepare for a library booksale. Well, perhaps "practical" is an overstatement...

1. Start weight training several months before the sale

You want to be in top condition for a library booksale. Strengthening your biceps and triceps is very important. After all, you want to be able to lift large stacks of books. Lunges are also vital, since you will be squatting by those boxes hidden under the tables (where, of course, they have hidden the best books).

2. Find a heavy-duty suitcase -- with wheels.

The bag you choose for the booksale is very important. After all, you're tired of pushing around vodka boxes with your foot while juggling two other boxes in your arms, like you have been doing at previous book sales. Sometimes I wonder where they get all of those liquor boxes... You definitely want something with wheels, as your bag will certainly be too heavy to carry by the end of the sale.

3. Cover a table with rows of books, arranged spine-up.

This is a very important step! Unless you become expert in finding the few good titles amidst a table full of mostly uninteresting books, your book sale experience may turn out very unsatisfactorily. I advise spending at least an hour reviewing the titles of your up-ended books, thereby training your mind to immediately recognize the books you're interested in.

4. Study the floor plan that you sketched during the last book sale.

There's a chance that the books may be arranged the same way they were at the last sale, so it's worthwhile familiarizing yourself with the different sections: mysteries, children's, literature, history, etc. Make a list of the categories you want to visit and arrange them in order of preference. If you know beforehand exactly which sections are most important to you, there's less of a risk of some other crazed book buyer getting to your books first.

5. Choose an appropriate outfit to wear to the sale.

This can be tricky. You want something that's intellectual, but not dowdy; business-like, but casual; practical, but stylish. Ideally, wear something that allows for plenty of manuevering. Your outfit should show you mean business, but don't make it too obvious how determined you are -- you might scare other book buyers into a frenzy if they think you're likely to buy all of the books.

6. Camp out in front of the sale location at least one night before the sale. Don't forget to bring a book.

If you're serious about books, you need to make sure you're the first one in the door. This will give you a slight advantage over the other bibliophiles that are straining to get in. If you are worried that you might miss some wonderful finds, approach the "Friends of the Public Library" before the sale and offer to buy all of the books. This is really the only way to be sure that you'll get...well, everything!

Happy Book Hunting!


  1. LOL! I have never been to a book sale before, but you make it sound like so much fun! =)

  2. Thank you for this lovely overview! :-D Next time I hit a library book sale...I'll remember these points. Of course my hubby would probably prefer me to avoid the sale...but they call you, you know!

    Hope you are successful in your booksale shopping!

    Lots of love,

  3. All right, Shan, I think I've done everything except find the rolling suitcase. I only have a rolling back pack and that's not going to carry much. I think to my biceps, triceps, and lunges, I'll add some foot pushes to train my ankle to push those heavy boxes. :-)

    See you at the sale in a couple of hours!


  4. Too funny! Lucky, lucky you. Be sure to post about your findings!
    ~Tiffany Hope (from the S&S forum)

  5. Ha! I loved this. Do you mind if I link to it from my blog?

    Jane Ellen



    Hannah L. (A frequent reader, rare poster)

  7. I'm glad you all enjoyed my perspective on library booksales! ;-)

    Jane Ellen, I'd be flattered by your linking to me!

    Hannah L., the set of Dickens is mine -- and I'm not selling ;-) I actually bought them in Scotland last summer, for $2 a piece! Ka-ching! :-) They're delightfully tiny, and the pages are as thin as the pages in a Bible.

    Yours in Christ,

  8. Maria Pauline10/04/2008 8:12 AM

    Shannon, you really do know how to make me laugh! Unfortunately, all the booksales I go to seem to be void of real books.


  9. What a great post! It was so humorous yet so true :) Unfortunately, our library book sales this year have been while we were at the homeschool convention and the next one is while we will be at a reenactment. Oh well! Maybe next year!


  10. Wow--that's amazing. I mean, to actually go to Scotland (my travel dream), then buy a set of Charles Dickens like that while you're there?

    Enjoy the book sale!

  11. Kim D of At Sea Level10/04/2008 3:59 PM

    Hold the Phone!

    Which library here is having the sale?! Is it the one nearest you or me? and have I missed it?! I bet I have!

    *shakes fist at having to constantly work on the good days*

    If I haven't missed it, I'll prepare myself. I don't have a suitcase on wheels, but I have a box shaped automobile on wheels. I think that would work. I could just run back and forth packing books into it! sweet glory!

  12. Hilarious! :) I need to attend one of those!!

  13. What fun! I think it would be dangerous to let me loose at a book sale. And I might be forbidden to buy some of those delightful, musty ancient editions by the allergy-prone members of my family.

    I tagged you on my blog - you have to write six random things about yourself. Come over and see!

  14. Oh, too funny! I can relate, though! :)

  15. Simplyvintage10/07/2008 12:52 PM

    Oh that sounds like my family! We camp out for the day at our library sale, so we are usually first in line. Aren’t book sales delightfully fun! For they are a time to search for buried treasure of good books!

    Ashley (Simplyvintage from S&S)

  16. You had me giggling from start to finish Shannon! I love it! Now I am wondering why it has been so many years since I've been to a book sale! We have good discount bookstores in the area I frequent, but I'm not determined to find some other sources of books ;) Thanks for the tips!!
    Tiffany (from S&S)


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