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Library Sales-Entertainment on a Budget

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Calling all bookworms, literati, and bibliophiles! If the preceding terms apply to you, then you share my affliction: a lifelong love of reading and an explosion of books, books everywhere. Or to be Seussical about it: Books that are whimsical, books that are blue, books in the pantry, and books in the loo! I remember fondly the days when I would walk into a bookstore and easily drop a hundred bucks or more when I considered myself out of things to read. It was as essential as grocery shopping. What's more, those bookstore trips were like little Christmases. A pile of stuff just for me! So joyful! And yet, just like Christmas... measurably taxing on the pocketbook.  

Needless to say, I had to fine-tune my book buying habits when I found myself in declining financial straits. And I know, the simple answer here is: "Use the library!" That is very true. I could not be a bigger advocate of libraries; in fact, I'm finishing up my masters degree in school library science this fall! So yes, the very first thing to do is to join your local library and take advantage of your membership! Aside from all of the fantastic books and free internet access, it is a treasure trove for information on community classes, programs, job opportunities, and the like. 

But, as a person who loves the act of buying books, the absolute greatest thing about libraries is the library sale. Many - if not most - community libraries hold library sales anywhere from once a year to once a month. When I worked as a bookscout I traveled from place to place trolling these sales. I remember at first I didn't have high hopes because I thought "Oh, they must be selling the books that are too beat up or outdated for even the library to want anymore. Yuck." I couldn't have been more wrong! Libraries get donations all the time: through executors settling estates, folks moving out of the area, neighbors purging their own collections. These are the books that are sold at library sales. You're just as likely to find a squeaky clean copy of last month's bestseller as you are an old cookbook from decades past. It truly is the grabbiest of all grab bags! It's like finding a hidden used bookstore inside your library with rock bottom prices. In my experience, most libraries price hardcover and trade paperback books at one to two dollars. Children's books are usually much cheaper. Some places have "bag day" on the last day of the sale where they will charge three to five dollars per grocery bag full of books. You'd be amazed how those Tetris skills come in handy when trying to stack as many books as possible into paper bags! 

Many communities line up other activities around library sales, especially in the summer. Last year I found myself in a little town called Montrose, near the PA-NY border. They held their extensive book sale in conjunction with the town's blueberry festival. There were games, live music, arts & crafts, and (need I say) some of the best blueberry pies, pastries, and confections I've ever eaten in my life. By the time I returned to my car I had probably ten books, two bushels of berries, and a pie - all for under twenty bucks. Besides that, I'd spent a delightful day in the sun enjoying the sights and sounds of a charming town.   

The website I used as a bookscout to locate library sales is: www.booksalefinder.com. Smaller libraries may not list their sales with booksalefinder.com, so it also pays to check the websites of libraries in your area to see if any sales are on the horizon. So get out there, do some treasure hunting, save a bunch of money, and support your local library! And while you're at it, grab a Rice Krispies treat at the bake sale table for me...

  • If you love books (like me!), another suggestion is to try using a swap site like paperbackswap.com. You post the books you're finished with. When someone requests one of your books, you mail it out, paying the postage. In return, you get a book credit, which allows you to order a book from someone else on the site. You pay nothing for the books. The only thing you pay for is the postage to mail a book that's been requested from you. Since media mail is fairly inexpensive through the post office (most paperbacks ship for around or under $2.00), there's very little money involved. I love, love, love this site. I've gotten a lot of books this way and it has helped me clean out my book collection of those books that were okay, but you know you'll never read them again.

  • Oh my gosh!  I will most certainly log into this! The recycler, reader, and general do-gooder in me loves this idea to pieces! To say THANK YOU for this tip is putting it way too mildly. Who knows, maybe we'll end up with each others books one of these days?!?!

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