I worked the PTA used book sale today. Miraculously, I managed not to come home with an equal or greater amount of books than the ones I donated to the sale. I even found new homes for some of the books that I had donated, notably T. Berry Brazleton’s Touchpoints, a great book that I raved about to a woman who was about to become grandmother for the first time. I think my review, plus the fact that it was going for fifty cents, really did the trick.

I’m always interested to see the kinds of books that get donated for charity book sales. The Library Lady had a great post recently about the kinds of mistakes people make in donating books at her workplace–a post that was totally born out by my experience today. Does anyone really want a copy of AOL 7.0 for Dummies? Just how dumm must one be, to need an instruction manual for a version of AOL released in 2001?

I was filled with mixed feelings about the makeup of the book donations. I tend not to donate favorite books myself, but I’m still often surprised by the number of mystery and romance novels that grace these tables. I can’t decide if all of my neighbors are really big James Patterson fans, or if they’re just ridding themselves of their beach reading. But I guess the thing that makes a bestseller a bestseller is that it sells a lot of copies–I’m not really sure why I’m always surprised to see so many of them at these kinds of things. I thought about grabbing a bunch of stuff to take home and list on bookmooch, but in the end, I restrained myself. God knows, our house doesn’t need any more books, especially ones no one will ever read.

By the end of the sale, when we were just encouraging people to fill a bag for a dollar, I did convince a lovely threesome of elementary-to-tween sisters to take home Phillip Pullman’s The Subtle Knife, which none of them had ever read. I’m a huge Pullman fan, and was delighted to be able to introduce some new readers to his book, without having to actually give up my own.

My dream for retirement is to someday run a nice little used bookstore, full of cats and funky editions of Kurt Vonnegut novels. I’m always bummed out that there isn’t one in my town. With what’s been happening to independent bookstores lately, I’m not entirely sure that my dream will ever come to fruition (unless I hit the lottery first). Still, it’s nice to get in some practice.


October 7, 2006. books for grown-ups, books for kids.


  1. Michelle replied:

    I loved used books, specifically used old hardback novels. They always smell so distinctively wonderful and sometimes I’ll find old photographs and letters in the pages as forgotten bookmarks.

  2. chichimama replied:

    I’m eagerly awaiting our church book sale…some great finds when you go digging.

    There was a little used bookstore in the town I grew up in, and that was one of our favorite destinations. It was complete with cat. My first paying job was there as a shelver. Since gone out of business of course…

  3. Suzanne replied:

    I love library sales — the anticipation of finding a great book for a great bargain makes me giddy. I also get a rush from seeing books I already own, and sometimes am tempted to buy them just because they are a different edition.

    Your town seems perfectly suited for a used bookstore — but wait, didn’t there used to be a paperback one? I’d never been; maybe it’s gone by now?

  4. Comfort Addict replied:

    I love used bookstores. Mrs. CA, who reads more than I do, doesn’t. She rolls her eyes a bit when we drive past one and I ask her if we can please stop. Good luck on your dream!

  5. Daydreams and Musings replied:

    I was just at our local used book store with my older daughter, looking for books to fulfill her monthly reading requirement – not only do they need to read, they need to read certain KINDS of books (mostly the kind we don’t have at home) – this month it’s a detective book, a non-fiction geography book, a non-fiction science book and a “spooky” book. Believe it or not, I found all of those there – for less than 1/2 what we would’ve spent at Borders. (And it cost less than it would have cost me for gas/parking/my time to pick up and drop off the books at the library). And I like supporting that store – we need something other than Borders around here.

    In my retirement, I want to own a funky bookstore/kint shop. No cats, though – I’m totally allergic!

  6. Library Lady replied:

    Frankly I’m really depressed ay anyone thinking that you’re saving money on gas/parking/time by not going to the library for those books. Don’t you realize you pay money in your taxes for the library? And that libraries have LIBRARIANS, folks like me who LOVE helping kids find the right book? Used bookstores seldom have that, unless they are run by former librarians–and most of those aren’t children’s librarians.

    We had our adult booksale last week and that work I mentioned in the post really paid off. We made the most money ever. (BTW, thanks for the plug, Landismom!) his week II did a kids book sale because our donations shelves were loaded with tons of BRAND NEW high quality kids fiction–obviously either bought as gifts or for reading assignments, and never read either way. We made a lot of money on the sale, which is good because we really need things for the children’s room. But I’d far rather have families using the LIBRARY books than have that money.

    Support your public library instead of your local bookstores. Your house will thank you for all that nice clear space–wish my own husband would heed that advice. Sigh….

  7. Mere replied:

    1. Love Touchpoints
    2. Love library book sales (in fact, I don’t buy new books anymore. In between these book sales, I just use my library CARD! Hello? Isn’t that what it’s there for? LOL!)
    3. Thanks for the donation tip – I think we may have made those kind of donations before. *blushing* We’ll just recycle them next time.
    4. I’ll have to check out Bookmooch. I do Frugal Reader, but I’d love to expand my selections. Thanks for the tip!

    Good luck with the used book store. It sounds like an awesome idea to me! I love the atmosphere in those stores.

  8. Kate the Shrew replied:

    I, too, love used book stores. I also love that my local used book store (with cat) happens to be Powell’s!

  9. Rolf - James Patterson Fan replied:

    About the James Patterson books: I guess your conclusion about best sellers selling a lot is most likely the reason that they turn up again as used books a lot too. 🙂

    About space in the house: I have started to listen to audio books, and storing these takes a lot less shelf space: I burn them to DVD and keep them on my monster Harddrive, so there is no space problem, also, the audiobooks allow me to ‘read’ books when I’m on the move and need my eyes to not bump into everything and everybody.

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