Pete and I went to the library sale in Westchester this morning.
Nine hardcover books for nine bucks.
I love library sales.
In fact, I consider myself to be a bit of a library sale connoisseur. There are several that I attend regularly. Two of these, in the exclusive, moneyed neighborhoods of Palos Verdes Estates and Rolling Hills, are huge--extensive selections in a wide range of categories, donated by all the rich folk who apparently don't care to keep their books after they read them. Wait a minute, let's rewrite that last sentence with less snark: donated by all the rich folk who care about their local libraries and want to help out in any way they can. These are fun sales, and I look forward to them...but I rarely come away with much, despite the selection. Perhaps because the majority of attendees come from the very neighborhoods that are served by the libraries, perhaps because the Friends of Library volunteers themselves are just more savvy salespeople, the books at these sales tend be priced at $3 and up. Yeah, I know, that's not very much for a gently used hardcover. Still...
At my little branch library here in Harbor City--which, unfortunately, stages a sale when the fancy strikes, but not on any regular schedule that I can determine--hardcovers are never more than a dollar. Sometimes they're fifty cents. Sometimes you can stuff a bag to bursting for a dollar. The selection's not as consistently awesome, but seriously--a giant tote bag full of books for a buck? I'm getting a little twitchy just thinking about it. At the sale we went to today, the books were an across the board dollar a hardcover, quarter a paperback. And there sure were a lot of good mysteries (and even a nice WWI history, for Pete).
Since leaving the bookstore I have dabbled in selling books online, in the Amazon Marketplace. So, ostensibly, when I go to a library sale I'm looking to pick up inventory to sell online. In reality, I haven't really figured this online bookselling thing out. What I like to read--mysteries, general fiction, horror--goes, in many instances, for pennies on Alibris and Amazon, and I just haven't gotten a handle on other categories of books to sell. I've had occasional flashes of brilliance--I picked up a first edition of Lost Moon by Jim Lovell and just knew it would sell. It did. Same with Foucault's History of Madness, which I picked up for a buck on a nonreturnable sale when that edition was being taken out of print and resold for twenty-five. But then there are the awesome signed books--a first edition of Abarat by Clive Barker, for example, or a copy of Telex From Cuba, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, that just sit and sit and sit. At some point, perhaps, I'll either figure it out or will have enough inventory listed that stuff will simply have to sell.
Better yet, someday, when I have my own little bricks and mortar used bookstore I'll figure the inventory thing out.
For now, I'll just buy stuff for myself.