Book Sales

This morning I went to my local area libraries’ book sale. They have one on and off – the good lady thinks every month or so – but we haven’t been to one for a while.

It is a tiny bit niggling when you find they’re selling off books you’ve already bought and read but it does afford the opportunity to sample an author whom you may be interested in but maybe not to the extent of punting the full price of a book.

They certainly sell their withdrawn stock at ridiculously cheap prices though, well undercutting any second hand book shop I’ve ever entered, and even the internet. And there were hundreds of books available, including loads for children, (plus some CDs) on the tables. But I suppose some of them (most?) are not in the best of nick.

However, today’s haul included an all but unopened paperback copy of “One Hundred Years Of Solitude” with spine totally intact. Only the plastic cover they put on (and the ripped out page where they would have put the date stamps if it had ever been borrowed) betrays it was a library book.

You have to question the buying policy in this instance. If this has been withdrawn unread, ought it to have been purchased in the first place? I would have thought that most people wanting to read “One Hundred Years Of Solitude” now (it is 35 years after it first appeared in British publication) would wish to own their copy rather than borrow it from a local library.

I know they’re recouping some money, here, and this will go to buying new books (at least I hope it will) but how cost effective is it? By no means all the books (not just the Marquez) were worn out. They could have stayed on the libraries’ shelves for longer, surely?



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  2. Jim Steel

    Library sales are so cheap that it’s worth picking up a couple of books just for the plastic covers. I’ve found that you can transfer one to another book and then cart it around with you all day without destroying it. American digest magazines with their flimsy paper covers benefit greatly from this.

    Next week: a novel use for bookies’ pens.

  3. Alianora La Canta

    The library I work at has a permanent minor sale on, with everything less than £1. One of the problems of library stocking is that sometimes the library buyer may think there’s a readership for a book that simply isn’t there (which sounds like the case for One Hundred Years of Solitude).

    Sometimes there is a large quantity of stock ordered of one particular title and some less-borrowed copies end up in “discard” (as it’s known in the trade), with eventually one copy remaining in the system in case of a sudden upswing in interest.

    Every so often, the shelves for one genre get completely full, in which case less-popular copies are likely to be removed and sold. That said, in such a case the library will try to get one of its fellow libraries to take the book off its hands first.

    Occasionally, a book is put in the discard pile by mistake and subsequently sold off.

    And there’s the more typical reasons – that a book is damaged, out of date or simply been subject to a one-year-old checking to see if paper/cardboard/plastic can be eaten.

    The amount that goes on buying new books is minimal – it would be more likely that the sale of a book covers the cost of a new book’s jacket (which is very useful for the items which are popular!)

  4. Alianora La Canta

    The other possibility is one that I learned at work yesterday. Some library systems have a policy of discarding any book over a certain age. If there’d been a miscommunication between the book orderer (who decided someone – perhaps someone putting in a reservation – needed that title) and the librarian using a standardised age-based discard policy, then this sort of thing could happen.

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