Library Sale this weekend

Just a little heads-up: the SF Library Book Sale starts on Thursday, 9/24, and runs through Sunday, 9/27.

As you will recall from my inability to shut up about it in previous years, the sale takes place in the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason, a massive warehouse filled with over 300,000 books on sale for $5 or less -- usually, much less.

Last night, Michele and I found ourselves doing a little breakdown of the four days of SALE SALE SALE, and here it is for you:

The sale opens at 10:00 a.m. with a long line out the door. As soon as the doors open, this line files right inside, so don't worry about it. Early birds get parking spaces (that lot fills up) and shopping carts (there's a limited supply). The people who show up first thing are about who you would expect. There are the book sharks -- bookstore owners who've come to mine the sale for treasures they can mark up and sell in their own stores -- and a lot of nutjob book lovers like me, the kind of people the sale rules get written for.

(Sale rules:
"Hoarding books is unfair to everybody. In fairness to all Book Sale participants:
-No blankets, sheets or any other coverings are allowed.
-You cannot have more than one hundred books or five boxes of books under your control at any given time without purchasing them.
-Anyone caught stashing or hiding books will be expelled.")

A tense atmosphere pervades the pavilion on Thursday, and people rarely make eye contact.

Michele and I went on Friday night last year. Big change. You would expect it to be packed with people coming after work, but actually it was virtually empty, and there were no book sharks that I saw, just ordinary people come to browse. This is a very pleasant way to see the sale on your own terms, if you are sane enough not to go on Thursday morning. (I am not that sane.) I suspect Saturday-day will also be calm, but I don't know for sure.

Sunday is crowded with the Sunday drivers of the book world, the book manatees. All the books get marked down to $1 or less, so you find a lot of parents coming for kids' books, little old ladies stocking up on mysteries and romances, students kicking around the classics, etc. The book sharks have already picked out the prime tuna and are nowhere to be found, so this crowd is gregarious and calm. It's a pleasure to come on Sunday and feel like part of a community: hearing a nine year old wish she could find that last Harry Potter, remembering you saw it in a box, and pulling it out for her, to her lasting delight. It's also a pleasure to take home two or three books for every dollar you spend.