Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Frightening Library Book Sale Experience

So our local library, which is reasonably large, has a book sale this weekend. They do these a few times a year and it's a great way to get some nice books for around $1 each. Tonight was the "Friends of the Library" pre-sale. Beth and I are "friends", so I got to see what birding and nature books I could get being there before all the good books are gone for once. I got there about 10 minutes before it started and was shocked to see at least 30 book-thirsty "friends" waiting to get in. I expected a handful of people at best. They had a checklist of names and special wristbands to wear, along with a 10 book limit! Clearly, these pre-sales are a hotter ticket than I thought.

The doors opened and I was carried into the room by the crowd like a 60's teenager at a Beatles appearance. I immediately headed to the nature section and picked up some nice books including A Sand County Almanac (sadly, I haven't read this classic), A Field Guide to the Atlantic Seashore, and Noah's Garden among others.

I immediately noticed a gentleman to my right just shoveling books into a huge canvas bag. What happened to the ten book limit??? Then I noticed something else rather strange. Several people had handheld computers and were vigorously typing in the ISBN's of the books they were looking at. Like madmen, they flipped open the book, typed the number in, and then either threw it to the side or took it. Of course, I had to figure out what was going on. I pushed my way through the throngs of people and asked one of the friendlier looking gentlemen about it. It turns out that he had the whole Amazon.com database in his little computer and he was looking up the prices of the books in hopes of re-selling them later. Well alright! I looked around and there were quite a few people with these devices. The people who had loaded bags of books were tucked into corners scanning all of their books to see which were the keepers. Their frantic pace made it clear that this must be a cut-throat business. Now you know where all of those Amazon booksellers come from!

Oh yeah, there's a new I & the Bird! Check it out.

9 comments:

Webster Twelb said...

I wish we had local library sales here..but we don't even have a library in my town and the books in our national library were just rotting in that place...

But oh my God! So that's what they do..those people who sell books on amazon..crazy!

Nuthatch said...

Tell your library you won't be their friend anymore (or share your toys) unless they ban that kind of behavior. It seems contrary to the spirit of a special preview. Anyway, you'll love Sand County Almanac. It is one of my favorite books.

Corey said...

I agree with nuthatch. That is absolutely ridiculous.

dguzman said...

How disgusting! These people are taking advantage of the library and making a profit off them. That's just not right. I too would tell the library people that they shouldn't allow these "friends" to bring their laptops. If they fear losing business, suggest they sell the leftovers on amazon themselves!

Glad you atleast got to get a few good books for yourself. Our library here does these sales, and then every spring there's a HUGE sale sponsored by the AAUW. I LOVE that sale! That's where I got my 1940s edition of Peterson's guide--for a quarter.

Patrick Belardo said...

NH and Corey, you make a great point. I plan to voice my complaints. I'm sure the library folks, who just had their budget slashed, won't be turning away these sellers though. At the least, they can have a more sane process.

D, that's cool about your old version of Peterson. I love looking through old guides.

Born Again Bird Watcher said...

I wouldn't just blame it on Amazon - it's likely there were eBay resellers in the mix as well. I've seen it in book sales as well as at the Goodwill Book Store fifty miles up the road from our place (what I won't do for a good deal on a book!). They buy up copies priced at five cents on the dollar and then "flip" them for a nice profit. I'm all for letting people make a living but it has really messed up the used book market.

Beth said...

I am SO GLAD I couldn't go with you that night. I wouldn't have been able to keep my mouth shut around all those pushy people. It's just not right. It disappoints me to know that the good books we donate probably go to the hands of these greedy people just trying to make a profit. UGH!

Patrick Belardo said...

John,

I'm sure you're right about eBay. I was just using Amazon as an example.

Larry said...

Any way to make a buck I guess. That's too bad.-Really ruins the whole spirit of the thing.