The Pains and Pleasures of the Book Sale

I make no allusions; I am a book sale junkie. I scour newspapers and library websites hunting for the next sale scheduled within an hour’s drive. However, after my most recent excursion, which resulted in forty minutes stuck in traffic and zero books to show for the effort, I began to wonder if my habit was paying off.

I’ve mentioned before my general aversion to ebooks and my personal preference for buying my books rather than borrowing from the library.  While this goes a long way toward satisfying my book-buying cravings, it also means that I’m shelling out the bucks on a regular basis.  I’d never be able to buy all of the books I wanted if I bought new, and I’m sure many fellow bloggers frequent used book stores as well.  Until recently, however, nothing satisfied me more than a library sale. The exhilaration of beating others to be first in line, the mystery of the selection available, the ability to walk away with an entire shelf’s worth of books for only ten dollars, nothing could beat a good library sale in my book. This was, however, until my most recent experience in which I met the unfortunate equivalent of a book sale drill seargant. I arrived straight from work, and so got there only a few minutes before the sale was scheduled to begin.  I assumed I would be just fine, since I was already a library member.  However, upon arriving, I was given a slip of paper with the number 54 scribbled on it. Fine, I thought, they just want to make sure I am really a member; oh, how wrong I was. General Paperback soon proceeded to herd us all like cattle, instructing us to line up in the order of our numbers and waving her arms about to direct us to the precise room we were allowed to enter.  So there I stood, impatiently grumbling behind fifty-three other irritated book buyers, waiting for my turn to enter the sacred chamber of dogeared paperbacks.

Usually, I would be in my element at such a sale, but by the time I actually entered the room, the wind had been let out of my sales. Add to that the general lack of quality of books available this time around, and I left a very displeased camper indeed. Given the recent deluge of blog posts detailing bloggers’ trips to BEA, I couldn’t help but remember my own frazzled book-buying experience. So it made me wonder, how many of you enjoy attending book sales, exhibitions, and other high-stress book-buying events? Is the ability to stock your shelves cheap or grab the next big ARC enough to inspire you to endure the stress, or would you prefer to shell out more money or wait a few months in exchange for comfort?


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