These are people who eye each other’s bookshelves, not just for what these bookshelves reveal about their owners’ interests, but to make sure the books have been read, that their spines are creased and their pages dog-eared.
These are people who don’t mind standing for an hour and a half in a long line in a parking lot in the rain simply to be one of the first into a warehouse filled with cheap used books.
Some of these people, it must be said, go not in search of a good read to while away the winter or because they care about plot or the moral imagination, but in search of profit: small-time booksellers who scan ISBN numbers with smartphones and sweep whole piles of books into boxes to resell on Amazon.
Corvallis hosts a civilized book sale, but even so, this is serious business. At last year’s event I was standing in line with my wife, chatting amiably with the folks in line behind us. When the conversation turned to what section we’d peruse first my wife said: “The technical book section” and the man behind her, all traces of camaraderie gone, said: “I’ll see you there.” We filed in quickly, and when I arrived at the poetry section a man was already there; feeling my presence alongside him his nervous hands shot out faster and faster, Frost, Neruda, and Ammons vanishing into his bag.
So, sharpen your elbows and prepare to pillage. There are some unbelievably phenomenal deals.
The BIG Book Sale will be held February 22 – 24 at Benton County Fairgrounds. For more information, visit http://thebestlibraryfriends.org.
by Nathaniel Brodie