Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Book Sailing We Will Go...

A Book Sailing We Will Go….

Woo- Hoo! I’m on Spring Break and the book sale season has begun. We kicked it off with the annual Boerne Library Sale, followed up by the next day with a Mini-Monster book sale in Austin.

The Boerne sale begins on Friday at noon so I started my Spring Break 1 day early. My principal knows my book buying forays add hundreds of dollars to books to the library so she is lenient about awarding personal days.

We set forth at 6am and sailed into New Braunfels by 9:30, just in time for the thrift stores to open up. Not much in the way of goodies but such is life. Hopefully no scores meant the book sale would be good to us. Book Sellers are perpetual optimists.

Boerne is a small town, about an hour north of San Antonio that for some reason has a stellar sale. Well laid out, well organized, not to pricy and in a building that is big enough to accommodate the crowds. Boerne is a well-heeled area, catering to retirees who are enjoying the good life. There is a also a population of ex-hippies, artsy crafty people who love the Texas Hill Country - not only is it beautiful, but it is also the vortex of all things liberal in Texas. Overall, it adds up to a population of avid readers.

By 11:30 the line was 50 people long and growing. Most book sellers know each other by sight so there was lots of chatting going on, talk of past finds, future finds, the fate of, whether or not it was worth it to open an e-bay store and acceptable book sale behavior.

It is a hot topic in the book-selling world. Technology has radically changed bookselling, what with the Internet and Scoutpal almost anyone can become a bookseller – at least for a little while.

In the old days book sellers relied on notebooks and their memories, which were prodigious and photogenic. Scoutpal enables one to scan or type in an ISBN and instantly find the value of a book according to Amazon. One does not need to know anything about books; one just needs to know how to type. At least that is what they think.

Dubbed the “scan monsters” they are considered lower than low. Many good booksellers use Scoutpal - I for one swear by it. However, we also have an intrinsic knowledge of books and use it as an additional tool, but not as our only tool. We go thought the tables, book by book, selecting what we want and setting them aside to check later when we cull prior to buying.

The scan monsters don’t operate like that. They sweep the contents of an entire table into boxes and carry the boxes to a corner where they scan every title and toss the discards, helter skelter into a pile. To them books are commodities. Period. Often they operate in a family – 3 or 4 of them grab up armloads of books while several others scan away in a corner. They horde stacks and stacks of books and allow no one else near them.

One of the worst offenders lives in Houston, nobody knows her name but everybody knows her. She arrived and the buzz started as folks pointed her out and recounted horror stories of her past behavior.

At the stroke of noon one the sale organizers opened the door and climbed on a chair to make some announcements. After the usual thank you for comings she stated that, based on past behaviors, they had made some changes in the rules. Anyone caught hording books, cleaning off tables or being rude or greedy would be asked to leave.

The line broke into wild cheers and applause.

Just like Queen Victoria, the Scan Monster was not amused.

1 comment:

Quillhill said...

Scan Monsters, as you call them, are the worst. What I like to do is walk over to a pile of books they have decided to keep and grab several for myself. When they protest that those are their books, I kindly let them know that, until they have paid for them, they are anybody's books.