Nine Library Book Sale Rules

Library book sale season is quickly approaching. In my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky, the Lexington Public Library will hold their Big Annual Book Sale the week of Oct. 15, 2016. And this year is extra special because the venue has been moved to less than two miles from my house. That’s walking distance, maybe even stole a buggy from Walmart on the way and pushed a few dozen books down a busy, four-lane street, distance. I kid.

My plan, as usual: Get out of bed early, eat a good breakfast, pick out a comfy outfit and nerd-alert my Facebook friends that I will be live tweeting the event.

As a Friend of the Library, I get to go on the first day of the sale. First dibs! I’ll also get there at least 10 minutes before they open the doors, which brings me to the rules.

Rule 1. If you are not at the library sale before it opens, you are late.

Seeing a line snaked around a building before a book sale or book event gives me such a high. It’s not often that I get to be around people who get it. Get what? If you don’t know, you are not one of us. So many book people, and some of them even more hardcore than me with their cardboard boxes and dollies.

A few years ago, I overheard a woman say, “It’s like mining for gold,” as she perused the rows and rows AND ROWS of books on one table. And she was right. To us, books are gold. Books are better than gold.

Rule 2. Do talk about how much you love books (and reading and book sales) with the other people at the sale.

I’ve recommended books to strangers and put titles close to my heart into the hands of strangers. This is fine. What’s not fine is talking about politics on your cell phone while you shop, true story.

Rule 3. Do not talk politics on your cell phone at the library book sale. We are all focused and digging for books and we don’t care about your politics. Go home.

There are so many people at the book sale that it’s important to remember manners and remain determined in your mission to find good books. Interrupting others with political noise can be annoying. At the book sale, we may not all vote on the same candidates, but we all love books—stay focused on that.

Rule 4. Do not attempt to move a book lover at the sale along by forcefully reaching for books in his/her space.

I will not be rushed, and I will not tolerate your bad attitude and huffing and puffing. But, speaking of space, people with boxes need to use common sense.

Rule 5. Do not slide your cardboard box on top of the rows of books as you look at books on another part of the table. The book of my dreams might be under your box.

There’s really no reason to be rude at the library book sale. There are enough books to go around; volunteers are constantly unpacking books during the sale, and people have different tastes. What gets me excited, you might not blink an eye at.

Rule 6. Step away from the book you already own.

It jumps out at you from all those titles dying for a chance to get to know you. This book is an old friend. It was so good that it doesn’t feel right to just leave it behind. So, you start thinking about people you could give it to as a gift. You decide that maybe you should have backup copies, just in case one gets ruined on the beach. Save your money.

However, it is OK to buy a book you already read if you don’t own it. Maybe you borrowed it from a friend or checked it out from the library but you need it in your permanent collection. That is what’s called scoring at the book sale.

Rule 7. Do take that book you already own, the one that meant so much to you, and reposition so that it’s more visible on the table.

I do this a lot. This is my way of saying to everyone at the book sale, “This book is amazing. Read it NOW.” Library staff would probably disagree with this rule. My bad.

Rule 8. Do not buy books you won’t read.

You know the ones. Those books that look cool around hour three at the book sale, but somewhere in the back of your mind you know you will never read that book and it will end up taking up space on your bookshelf until you get rid of it. Boring biographies, the classic with the too-yellow pages, etc.

Rule 9. You can return.

The library sale here runs for one week. I realize what can happen in visit. You’ve circled the hardcover novels a third time. You are dehydrated. You can’t carry anymore books, and you’ve already gone over your budget. It’s time to go, dear. Get some fresh air and spend a little time actually reading.