I went to the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library‘s book sale in April and scored 12 books for $24. All the proceeds benefit the San Francisco Public Library.
It felt like a festival: live music, pop up food trucks, and a book maze! I arrived promptly when they opened and people were slowly filing into the pavilion, empty tote bags and back packs at the ready.
Last winter was the first book sale I attended. I feared that I would buy too many books so I didn’t go to previous book sales. Last winter I was overwhelmed and got dizzy seeing so many books. This year though, I was prepared. I had breakfast, coffee, and was there right when it opened. (Last year I went on a Friday, this year a weekend, so I knew it would be busier).
This is what you walk into. Table and tables of books.
Here’s the crime section: note the stacks of Stieg Larsson’s books.
To make things even more overwhelming and exciting and more like a treasure hunt, there are boxes kept beneath the tables which volunteers pull from to replenish the tops of the tables. However, shoppers are allowed to search through the books.
The Friends of the San Francisco Public Library have been holding these biannual sales for a few years. They are so well organized and orchestrated. Upon walking in you’re greeted by a volunteer who hands you a map and asks if you have any questions. There are hundreds of little red baskets to pile your books in. For the shopper with more space on the bookshelves, there are carts, which people push slowly up and down, overflowing with books. I’m jealous of them: I want to push a red cart down the aisles and fill it up as high as I can.
To add to the innumerable volunteers who keep replenishing books and straightening piles, there is also a “book check” of sorts. You can leave a stash of books with them while you continue to shop for more books.
Seeing so many books available for so little money brings out the Gollum in me. The agreeable booknerd momentarily disappears and all I think is, these people are my enemy! They are going to find my books and take them home with them!! It’s a race and I need to find them first!
But then I breathe and sanity takes over and the solemn hobbit resumes his place and I quietly go up and down every aisle, tables first, then boxes underneath. And some sections I double and triple check to make sure I haven’t missed anything.
For two years I’ve worked with a teen intern, Colin. I ran into him while he was volunteering at the book sale. He’s a writer, avid reader, and he was one of a dozen teens that the SF Public Library consulted with about how to make a teen center. Talk about dedication to literature!
I wanted to buy some books based on their covers, but held myself back. Instead I just took pictures.
Below are the books I actually purchased. Some of them were second or even third copies of books I already own. I’ve learned that the book sale is a great place to pick up gifts for friends. No one minds a second-hand book.
Making the trek to Fort Mason is an exercise in restraint. I buy only what I can carry as I take the bus there. (I considered taking a cab but realized that would only allow me to purchase more than I need to.)
And once the overzealous book hunter/hoarder/collector in me dies down, I enjoy knowing I’m with similar people. I’m with readers, my community, and we’re all looking for our new favorite read.