This is one of my favorite ways to get used books. As far as I know most public libraries have library sales, usually hosted by their own Friends of the Library volunteers. In some cases you may find library sales at university libraries too but it’s not as common. So what are they and what is the purpose of them (other than you getting cool new-to-you books)? Here’s usually how it works.
Libraries often keep track of how often the books they have in circulation go out. If a book doesn’t leave the shelf very often, there are too many copies available, or a book is damaged they often get relegated to a sale pile.
Every library runs their sale differently. Mine features book previously taken out of circulation as well as books that are donated expressly for the purpose of sale. If you donate ARCs to your library and they either a) don’t realize they are ARCs or b) don’t care (yes, it happens) they may also end up in the sales. Because each sale is run differently, the pricing is also different from sale to sale. Usually prices are no more than a couple dollars per book.
In the case of our sale, the library does special deals on certain items. YA, Children’s, Sci-fi, and fantasy are only 10 cents a piece. Usually those genres will be a little cheaper than the rest as many library consider them “niche”, but it will depend on how yours works.
Now, how do you get the most out of a library sale? Here are some tips:
- Get there as early as you can. Day one is often for Friends of the Library members but if you aren’t one just try to get in as early on day 2 as possible.
- Bring a tote. It will make your life so much easier. Some people try to bring rolling suitcases but the rooms are often too crowded.
- Start in your favorite section. If your sale is divided by genre, try to get to what you read most at the beginning but don’t disrupt the traffic flow.
- If the sale isn’t divided, start at the back and work your way up. Most people start at the front and you will get through much faster by starting at the back.
- Bring cash. I’ve never seen a library sale that will take a credit or debit card but they may exist. Cash is just easier for all.
- Make one general pass, then go back for a second more detailed one. On your second pass you can have certain titles in mind and examine the stock more carefully. You don’t want to regret missing something good.
- Have a plan. Know how much you may want to spend and plan accordingly.
- Mothers of small children: IF you can help it, don’t bring your stroller. Some sales do not allow them, and they can get in the way of good traffic flow. Back packs and baby carriers are your friend in these situations.
- Check out each book’s condition if you think you may want it. I have found mold in some of these books before.
Have any other tips for this topic? Want to request a different tips or tricks topic? Share in the comments.