Some people go ga-ga when they hear Macy’s, Nordstrom or another one of their favorite department stores is having a sale. Then, there are those who get excited over end-of-season clearances and markdowns at Target, Kmart, Kohl’s and Boscov’s. Others become revved up when they hear it’s $2 Tuesday at Goodwill or new shipments arrived at the neighborhood dollar store or they discover recent rollbacks at Walmart.
And then there’s my mom … She lights up brighter than a Christmas tree when she starts marking her calendar in anticipation of the library spring and fall book sales!
To say my mom is an avid reader is an understatement. She reads a couple of books each week, so she needs an ongoing supply of books to feed her ferocious appetite for reading. To be honest, it’s not only just the book sales that she loves, but she especially gets cheap thrills to arrive on the sale’s final day when she can stuff shopping bags full of books for anywhere from $1 to $5, depending which library is having the sale. Obviously, I rarely miss attending these book sales because I know bringing my mom to them makes her deliriously happy!
If you walk into any book store or order books online, single copies are usually 10 bucks or higher. This is the No. 1 reason why these very reasonably priced sales are so popular. Those who enjoy reading are lucky if they live in Delaware County because it’s loaded with libraries and, therefore, plenty of sales! Luckily, they are usually spread out over weeks and months, so bookworms can hit them all if they wanted, without having to choose because they overlap. I’ve taken my mom to enough of these sales to know that some are better than others, although I have never been to one yet that wasn’t worth attending, and each one is unique in its style and offerings.
At the fall sales, readers can pick up a suitable supply for when they’re holed in on cold winter nights. In the spring, readers can stock up on books to read poolside or while lounging on the beach. Even if you read on a Kindle or other electronic device, you won’t want to get your gadget wet or sandy, so you will want to grab some actual books for your summer reading pleasure.
In addition to books, the sales feature CDs, magazines, DVDs, games, puzzles and sometimes some reading accessories, like bookmarks and book lights. Some library sales may also feature snacks, plants, a white elephant table, baked goods or something else for purchase, in addition to the books, but the main focus is always books.
I have a few tips if you are going to a library book sale for your first time:
1. Reserve a block of time because, just like when you are in Barnes and Noble, you’ll start browsing and reading book covers and an hour quickly turns into two. I’m always amazed at how organized the sales are. Usually, there are special displays of travel, children’s, cookbooks, fiction, biographies and such so that it’s very easy to zero in on exactly what you like.
2. Don’t just be a buyer; also be a donor. Before you load up on books because they are at unbeatable prices, clean off your bookshelves and tables of the books that you’ve already read and bring them to the local library so that another bibliophile can enjoy them. As you look around your house this spring, think “out with the old and in with the new” and fill up some boxes to donate. The only taboo items that libraries will usually not accept are encyclopedias, Reader’s Digest condensed books, National Geographic magazines and VHS tapes. You’ll have to find another channel to move them along. Also, they definitely don’t want moldy or mildewed items — yuck!
When you are doing your spring cleaning, remember local libraries appreciate being the recipient of your already-read and unwanted books. Your generosity will help the library because all proceeds from their book sales go right back into making the library a special place for the entire community. If you are really feeling generous, libraries can also use helping hands to sort and set up the sales and also to work at the sales, sorting and helping customers.
3. If their calendar and schedule allows it, shoppers may want to check out the first day of the sale, when selection is at its peak, the second day when the inventory is usually half off and then, like my mom, hit the final day when shoppers can stuff a big brown paper bag for a few bucks. My mom has perfected the art of filling that bag so there is not an inch of space left, which leads me to the next tip.
4. If you have a wagon or coach or any gadget with wheels, bring it along when you bring books to donate and when you arrive to shop because those books can be heavy! It makes shopping more pleasurable, especially if the library has multiple rooms of books. Shoppers can browse much easier if they have a wheeled gadget to pull their selections along and free up their hands.
5. My final tip is to have fun! If you’re a bookworm, like my mom, these library sales are paradises. They are the thrill of the hunt — you never know what you will find or bring home. Some books are shiny brand new, while others are vintage, and they are from every genre under the sun. When you browse, you can pick up books that you think friends and family members may like because the price is right to be generous for no occasion. If they don’t like them, just put them aside, and donate them back to the next season’s book sale.
The sales are fun for kids, too, because they are loaded with cheap children’s books, movies, puzzles and games.
And while we’re speaking about reading and kids, this is just a reminder that the National Education Association’s Read Across America is coming up next Friday. The annual reading motivation and awareness program calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. Read Across America is meant to inspire parents and educators to keep reading to children on the calendar 365 days a year. It’s also a reminder to all of us to visit local libraries not just for the sales, but at all times of the year. If you haven’t been to your local library lately, you will be delightfully surprised by all the different programs and materials that they offer.
Here’s the scoop on some upcoming sales. I am sure that if I peek at my mom’s calendar, she already has them marked!
The Media-Upper Providence Free Library (MUPL), 1 E. Front St., Media, will have its spring book sale April 21 to 23.
The library depends on the proceeds from the semi-annual sale for much of its operating budget, and the sale depends on generous donations from the community. The library currently has special marked bins sitting at the library’s main entrance on Jackson Street where local residents, around the clock “24/7,” can place their donations of paperback, hardcover and children’s books, LP albums, DVDs, CDs, puzzles and games.
For more information, visit the Facebook page (Media UP Book Sale), email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the library at 610-566-1918.
The Friends of the Marple Public Library are now collecting donations for their upcoming spring sale in May.
People can drop off their gently used costume jewelry, pocket books, books and audiovisual items in the blue bin in the lobby of the Marple Public Library at 2599 Sproul Road in Broomall.
For information, call 610-356-1510.
There are many other upcoming spring book sales at local libraries that haven’t been posted yet, so I didn’t include them. Be sure to check with your local library to see if they weren’t listed or else keep checking our newspapers every week because we also list the semiannual sales.
In the meantime, keep donating. Swarthmore, Springfield, Ridley Park, Upper Darby and a lot of other libraries are always eager to accept books and other items for their seasonal book sales.
Additionally, many libraries offer ongoing book sales during their regular hours where readers can come at their leisure to browse the selections which are continuously evolving. Books are very cheaply priced, usually from a quarter to a dollar or two. Libraries with ongoing sales include Aston, J. Lewis Crozer, Helen Kate Furness, Lansdowne, Haverford Township, Middletown, Newtown, Prospect Park, Rachel Kohl, Radnor, Springfield, Ridley Township, Tinicum and Upper Darby.
The next time you get the urge to go out and purchase some new reads, I hope you head to your local library first before hitting a retail store so that you can save a few dollars and hug planet earth by doing your part in turning someone else’s used books into brand new book-finds for you. Just do me one favor — be kind to my mom if you are wrestling for the same book at the same time to stuff in your bargain bag!
Readers can reach Peg DeGrassa at email@example.com.