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The Allure Of Booksales

The Allure Of Booksales

I have a friend who’s a “booksale hound.” Whenever there’s a booksale within reasonable driving distance of her home—and she considers well over an hour “reasonable driving distance”—she’s there.

It’s not a case of her being too cheap (or broke) to buy new books. She buys plenty of those, too. But booksales yield up not just bargains—books for as little as a dime or a quarter—but treasures that can’t be found on the shelves of B&N or even among the stocks at Some of these are genuinely intrinsically valuable—and we’ll talk about “hidden treasures” in another week’s blog. Others are valuable only to the appreciator of some esoteric specialty—say, westerns or romances published in the first half of the twentieth century.

Booksales can be fun if you’re into hunting and browsing. You never know what you might find! Even if you’re looking for a particular type of book, you might find something far afield from that, which catches your eye and your fancy.

They’re often held by libraries but can be held as well by other types of sponsoring organizations. Sometimes a do-good organization or homeowners’ association, rather than having a yard sale or thrift sale, will hold a booksale. I know of a museum in Texas that holds an annual booksale.

And sometimes, near the end of a sale—it’s true of this one I have in mind in Texas—you can buy a bag or a box of books for a buck. At some of these sales, whatever’s left over at the end of sale is given away totally free to anyone who wants it.

No, you’ll rarely find hot, new, popular novels or nonfiction among the offerings—for that, you still have to pay full price. But if you enjoy a good read and don’t care that the book was published five or 50 years ago, and if you’re an avid reader who goes through books like a forest fire (perhaps an unfortunate analogy in the light of recent news events), you can really make out at a booksale.

Just don’t forget to keep buying new books too. Remember, we authors don’t make a cent off resales, and we depend on those royalties for at least part of our livelihood.

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