going to book sales with a book seller

Look hard enough and you’ll find community book sales whether they’re at the library or hosted by a not-for-profit. Incredible finds are easily at hand. Usually the first night requires a $5 or $10 admission fee (depending on the size of the sale) and the following days offer free admission. For years I just went on the free days and was happy with my deals. Last night for the first time I went to a $10 admission show.

The vibe couldn’t be more of a polar opposite from the free days. I arrived 30 minutes early and was the 22nd person in line. Some people had giant plastic bins. Others had flat-bed dollys. Whoa. This quickly turned into serious business.

As the doors opened everyone whipped out their smart phones, started zapping bar codes frantically and tossing books into their bins. The atmosphere was quiet, focused, determined busyness. No blood was spilled between the elbows of competing bar code zappers only because no one wanted to afford the disposal of precious seconds.

I kept my focus and zipped through the Art section first for any nuggets. Nothing super extraordinary. The Religion section was next and I was seconds, mere seconds away from landing a giant find. For more on that story check out my blog post over at repentantjoy.com.

As my treasure was being whisked away by a zapper his sharp shank cut me to the core. That’s how a zapper destroys his fellow zappers and the occasional oddball non-zapper… he puts your treasure in his plastic bin.

Later I asked a volunteer what the deal was with people scouring intensely for bar codes and completely dismissing the rest of the book. She said they are book sellers. Ah yes. The book seller looking for sellable books.

No one could answer what exactly this scanning process reveals. (I asked other volunteers.) And I dare not approach these book sellers at work. And that’s what they were doing… working. This was work for them. In today’s culture it’s tough business selling books. So I’ll respectfully keep my distance.

Will I go back to the $10 first night sales? Part of me says yes because now I want to find that Martin Luther collection! It’s certainly a bit of a gamble. But it’s more comfortable just going on a free day and finding a handful of books and being happy with that even with the knowledge that the zappers crazily combed through everything the night before.