By Mary Richardson
The Used Book Sale is back after a hiatus of three years. The last sale was held in 2019. “We were all set to go in March of 2020,” said Polly Cole. “It was going to be our biggest used book ever, but then COVID shut us down. But now we are ready with more than 25,000 books!”
Dates of the sale are Friday through Sunday, March 25-27. It will be held again in the EDS gym at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, 715 Kirkman. Hours are 8-6 pm on Friday, March 25, 8-4 pm on Saturday, March 26, and 11-4 pm on Sunday, March 27, the day of the popular $5 bag sale.
The books survived the natural disasters since the aborted 2020 comes out. “We were very fortunate,” Cole said. “The church was damaged by Hurricanes Laura and Delta, but only a few books were lost. Most were high and dry in a climate-controlled storage building. They are in wonderful shape.”
The year 2022 will be the year for gorgeous leather-bound books. “Each year there is something special,” Cole said, admiring the plush leather binding of Robinson Crusoe, one of 83 volumes of the Collector’s Edition of the 100 Greatest Books Ever Written, published by the Easton Press. Plans are being made for a silent auction for this particular set, which is valued at more than $4,000. “This will make quite a statement in someone’s library!” she said.
Cole, chair of the event, says she and her nine core volunteers never know what the year will bring. In 2019 they had an outstanding selection of coffee-table books, ranging in topics from outer space to trains. This year the piece de resistance is the Greatest Books set.
It is also going to be the “Year of the Gun.” “We have a huge selection!” she said. “We have books about every aspect of guns you can think of — sporting guns, gun collectibles, history of guns, reloading guns, famous guns that ‘won the West,’ powder flask guns, Luger pistols — just everything!”
New this year are jigsaw puzzles. A handful of puzzles have been available in previous years, but this year more than 20 jigsaw puzzles were donated, all in great shape.
Except for special “blue ribbon” books, prices are $3 for hardbacks, $1 for trade paperbacks, two for $1 for regular paperbacks, $3 for cookbooks, and $1-$2 for children’s books. Audio books range between $3 and $5. LP albums are $1.
Some books are too valuable to go for the normal prices, so they are placed on a Blue Ribbon table. These books might sell for hundreds of dollars on Ebay, but at the book sale they are priced considerably less. For example, there is a set of 40 leatherette-bound Agatha Christie mysteries that have sold on Ebay for $500.
“They will be considerably less at the books sale — but more than the usual $3!” Cole said.
The famous “$5 a bag” sale will take place on Sunday. People are given sturdy bags and totes and pay a flat $5 for as many books as they can stuff into them. Cole and another volunteer, Deborah Fontenot, stuffed a couple bags as an experiment to see how many books they could fit in. “Twenty-seven!” she announced triumphantly. “It’s really heavy!”
In recent years, the book sale has netted about $23,000. Proceeds are distributed to local non-profit organizations. This year’s recipients will be Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Girlie Girls Mentoring Program Inc. (for girls ages 8-11), and others.
Cole leads a core group of volunteers who organize the sale – Annette Ballard, Amy Allen, Gina Ardoin, Sara Bass, Pam Clark, Deb Fontenot, Karen Garber, Debbie Howrey, Megan Knox, and Pam Spears – and more people help during the sale. The committee is made up of people from Good Shepherd as well as book enthusiasts from the community.
“However, we are always looking for more recruits,” Cole said. “We need people to help set up the week of the sale, and then to help sell during the sale.” Anyone who would like to volunteer, should contact Cole at email@example.com.
The books have been sorted into about 50 categories. Recently new categories have been added, such as Christian fiction and entertainment. Science fiction continued to grow, as do the categories of teen literature and the classics.
Cookbooks make up a huge category. “We have beautiful, coffee-table style cookbooks,” she said. “We have ethnic cookbooks from all over the world, and we have regional cookbooks that have recipes you just can’t find anywhere else in the world!”
Two other popular categories are “History” and “War and Military.” Other categories include children’s books, Christmas, gardening, mystery, history/politics, religion, relationships, travel, westerns, and animals/pets.
Sometimes the books make the volunteers laugh, such as “Explanations in Plain English for Seniors.” And others are what they call “snoozers.”
“Do you think anyone will want ‘Minutes from the Fur Trappers Convention, 1978?’ Cole asks.
Selections of DVDs and LPs are also larger than last year.
With so many books, not all of them can be put out on tables at the same time. Cole says that people should come every day of the sale. “As books sell and we have room, we bring out more,” she said. “We hope people come every day and see what’s new.”
The committee is focused on the upcoming sale, but members are also looking ahead to 2023. Used books will again be accepted on Aug. 8, 2022.
For more information, check the facebook page of “Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd Used Book Sale.”