I mentioned in an earlier post that I’d be attending my favorite library sale today. It was the second day of the sale, and pickings were rather slim this time around. I usually attend the first day, but it was opening day of soccer season yesterday and I spent my day at the field.
This sale has been very good to me in the past. There are lots of books, almost always reasonably priced, and I almost always walk away with a few good finds.
Some booksellers I know don’t go to library sales anymore. They are fortunate enough to have most of their stock walk into their shops. I attend this monthly sale because I can see a range of books from old to new and poor to fine. Some good advice I received early on was to handle lots of books, thousands if possible. Doing so allows one to determine what is common and uncommon and to quickly judge condition.
Due to ridiculously high rents where I live, there aren’t many open second-hand book stores in my area anymore, so it is difficult for me to get that experience. There are a few higher-end antiquarian shops, and those are great, but usually they don’t offer books in a range of edition and condition. It’s tough to learn the difference between a “good” and a “very good” or a “better than very good” and “fine” without looking at books in each of these categories. A fine antiquarian shop just won’t have those lesser quality copies. So, to make up for that, I go to the monthly library sale in a town near mine. It’s a university town, and gets lots of donations from retired and deceased professors, wealthy citizens, and people just cleaning off their shelves. There are three rooms with 60,000 books. Each month I attend the sale and each month I learn more about distinguishing edition, condition, and scarcity. Plus, the books are cheap enough that when I make “mistakes”, I haven’t broken the bank. One can also find books that make good candidates for practicing minor repairs.
I said pickings were slim today. I got a couple of books about Soviet-era Russia (a personal collecting interest — I went there as an exchange student in college), two fine childrens’ picture books from the 1930s, and a book I think that reluctant readers like my sons Tom and Huck will be thrilled to have:
Tomorrow: Preparations for my first book fair