Library sale season is upon us once again. It’s the time of year when friends of your library and mine gather books from far and near and sell them in the basements, parking lots, and hallways of our beloved book temples for very little money. It is a wonderful time of the year. And so I have decided to share my expertise as a veteran library-sale-goer to help you, Book Riot readers, get the most out of your library sale experience.
Never go on day one. The first day of book sales are for chumps. You are not a chump. You are a thrifty, savvy bargain book hunter, and you will not pay $3 for a hardcover and $2 for a paperback, with some titles as low as $1. You have self-control. Maybe the books are better earlier in the library sale, but you already have plenty of books. You can wait until the last day when they are practically giving the books away.
Maybe go on day one, but only if you were totally going to go to the library anyway to pick something you have on hold, and you just want to take a quick peek at the sale to scope it out because you are a thrifty, savvy bargain book hunter, and okay seriously there are some good books there and $3 for a hard cover is actually pretty great if you think about it, you just saved $22.99 off the cover price of nine books. That’s hundreds of dollars, you thrifty, savvy bargain book hunter.
Hide the books you want (but not $3’s worth). Take that book that you kinda want, but for which you either don’t want to pay the full $3, or don’t have enough cash on hand, and hide it until you can return on bargain day. Common strategies for hiding books include: turning the book spine-side-in so no one can see the title, putting the book behind other books on the shelves, removing the book to a less popular section like technology manuals or self-help books. You are a thrifty, savvy bargain book hunter, and all is fair in love and library sales.
Scope out books other people have hidden and take them. Some people think it is a good idea to hide all the good books early in the library sale. They plan to come back later and pay less for day-one quality books. This is unsportsmanlike and should not be allowed. Find their hidden books and add them to your pile. Common strategies for hiding books include: turning the book spine-side-in so no one can see the title, putting the book behind other books on the shelves, removing the book to a less popular section like technology manuals or self-help books. You are a thrifty, savvy bargain book hunter, and all is fair in love and library sales.
At last. It is the last day of the book sale. This is your time, thrifty, savvy bargain book hunter. You made it with only a few minor slip ups (which practically saved you hundreds of dollars anyway, so whatever). The library sale is your oyster.
Since this is the last day of the sale, everything is dirt cheap. I recommend you use care and discernment for the first 30 minutes or so of your browsing, and then just throw everything you see into a bag. You will probably not find that one book by that one author you were wanting to read, but you will most certainly find her lesser-known, less popular work! Throw it in the bag, you thrifty, savvy bargain book hunter and lover of deep cuts. See an author name that you recognize, but you can’t remember whether it’s because he just died or because it was some internet scandal? Leave it! Nobody needs that! Pretty cover? Throw it in! Copy of a book you and already own and love? Grab it! Now it’s your loaner copy! It’s the last day! They’re practically paying you to be a Friend of the Library!
If you happen to see Ruta Sepety’s acclaimed novel Between Shades of Gray, take it over to the mass-paperback section and stick it between two copies of 50 Shades of Gray. This is never not funny. If you are looking for Ruta Sepety’s acclaimed novel Between Shades of Gray, head over to the mass-paperback section. Someone has left you a hilarious joke.
Don’t forsake the lesser sections. Fiction is a library sale’s bread and butter, but don’t forget the various non-fiction sections. “Biographies” might look like it’s full of heavily biased and out-of-date bios of each member of the Clinton family, but that’s also where you’ll find some great memoirs and histories.
Do not forsake other types of media. Hipsters know they can bulk up their vinyl collection with Sprechen Sie Deutsch? records from the 70s, but don’t forget to stockpile other media for its inevitable comeback. Eight-tracks, VHS tapes, and even CDs (the 90s are back!) can fill your home with a retro flair.
Instagram your haul. This is where you can show the world how high-brow and/or thoughtfully low-brow your book taste is. Book stacks can be deceptively hard to photograph, so choose a good background somewhere well lit, and consider an unusual angle. A prop like a cup of coffee or some kind of bookish swag (a Harry Potter owl? a Virgina Woolf plushie? your cat?) can be used to break things up a bit. Choose a warm, scholarly filter like Rise or Valencia and don’t forget to mention in your caption that you are a thrifty, savvy bargain book hunter.