As a bookfluencer(™) *cringes*, book lover, and overall hoarder of books, it is important to me that I get good deals on my collection. See, the thing is, I’m not just buying books for myself. I also like to buy books for my children, my husband, and I look for books to donate to a local veteran foundation. Obtaining a deal on books is an essential part of me maintaining my budget, too.
Recently, my mother-in-law and I decided to head up to Milwaukee for a huge Half Price Books blowout sale. Everything – literally everything, including vinyls – was $2.00 or less. Honestly, it would have been foolish NOT to go to this sale.
The thing is, it was actually really overwhelming. Let me paint a picture for you.
You walk into a big warehouse on the fairgrounds. There are hundreds of people swarming tables of books, flocking to sections with carts, baskets, bags, and strollers. There is limited room between each table; as you approach and get a closer look at the table, you notice there is no real organization to the tables. Books are scattered across every available surface and there are boxes filled with more books under every table. The closer you get to the section you want, the more you notice the lack of organization. You find a children’s chapter book mixed in with young adult novels. You start to wonder “how will I find what I’m looking for?”
The more you browse, the more foolish you feel for having brought a list with you, so you stuff your list into your pocket and just go for it.
Clear enough picture? Regardless, I’m still going to explain why exactly this book sale was overwhelming.
Have you ever been to a HPB store? If you have, you no doubt know their books are organized alphabetically by author’s last name and also by genre. At this book sale, they tried to clump books together into categories (i.e. Young Adult, Fiction, History), but they did not attempt to group anything together. As I browsed through the YA section, I kept stumbling upon children’s chapter books (i.e. Junie B. Jones, Ramona and Beezus, etc) which was simultaneously frustrating and delightful.
It was frustrating because I was browsing YA for specific titles, but couldn’t find anything I was really looking for specifically because there was no sort of organization. I’m not looking for alphabetization, but I would have loved if books were actually grouped together by topic. For instance, I found several Cassie Clare books spread across 6 different tables. Just. Put. Them. All. Together.
The main reason I wasn’t furious about the children’s chapter books mixed in is that I was able to find some of my childhood favorites mixed into the bunch.
People, people, people
I am the type of person who is easily affected by others. Meaning, the actions of a few people can potentially ruin my day simply because I let them. There was two women at this book sale who had the potential to ruin my day. Let me explain why…
I had a cart, but I am the type of person who is courteous of others and aware of myself and others situationally. I kept my cart out of other people’s ways and I made sure I wasn’t blocking anyone’s paths constantly. However, there was one person who approached me, cart stacked to the brim with books. They looked me right in the eye and said, “Could you move, please?” I was pretty taken aback by the brusqueness of the question – why would they not just say “excuse me?” Of course, I moved, but I was really frustrated at that point.
The second encounter with a person was, yet again, odd. Like I said, I try to stay aware in situations like this – maybe that’s the military in me? – but when I noticed this woman, I knew I’d have to pay close attention. She was walking up and down the tables of books, not even paying attention to other people. This person very nearly walked directly into me. As a situationally aware person, I don’t ever understand how people can be so unaware of other people (or themselves for that matter) that they’d be able to almost knock into someone, but here we are.
I will not be sharing my haul here. I will, however, let you in on how many books I bought and how much I spent. I ended up buying two reusable bags – which added to my total (they were $1.00 each) and I got one book for free because I donated a can of food to the event and received a coupon. In total, I spent $54 and some change – two books I bought were for my mother-in-law (to make up for her paying for parking) and one book was for my husband to decide what to do with (a history book on “great” battles). The rest of my haul, XX books in total, were books for myself and my children to enjoy.
A haul video will go up relatively soon if you’re interested in that, so stay tuned.
I didn’t hate my time at this book sale, I just felt anxious and overwhelmed for most of the time. I could have found more books if I hadn’t felt so anxious and overwhelmed, but I’m happy with what I did find. We spent 2 hours at the sale and both walked away with hefty amounts of books.
Can you describe your worst book buying experience? Maybe it was at a sale similar to this one. Share a story in the comments!
lover of literature. librarian in training.