The stuff book sales are made of

Today I went to the Tenth Annual Friends of the Guelph Public Library Giant Used Book Sale.

These sales are both fun and a bit depressing. The size of the crowds was impressive, and surprising. The weather was bad and I went first thing in the morning the second day of the sale and the place was still packed with hundreds of people of all ages. This cheered me up a bit, as it was nice to see so much interest in these endless tables of paper bricks.

The depressing part is when you realize that the majority of these books aren’t going to be sold, and that many of them come from the estates of book lovers who have come and gone before us. Finding something to do with the books left behind by a deceased bibliophile is always a problem. Basically, nobody wants them. At one point they were the physical presence of someone’s intellectual biography, but with the passing of that intellect they are largely rubbish. I couldn’t help thinking that I should just have a proviso in my will to have my books burned along with me. I’d have them all buried with me, but that would take a pretty large mausoleum. I guess the best thing to do is to find some way to give them away before you go, but it’s hard to time these things perfectly and you’re still left with the problem of no one wanting them.

There were several tables set up for movies and music as well, including vinyl records and VHS tapes. To my amazement people were buying VHS tapes. I still have a VHS player in my basement, but I thought I was among the very few left. I mean, why would you still be using one? Is there that much out there on VHS that isn’t available in any other format?

There were a lot of DVDs but people weren’t buying them even for $1. DVDs never really become collectible, do they?

Top authors? Robert Ludlum. Lots of Robert Ludlum. Jean M. Auel. Pierre Berton. I don’t have any Ludlum or Auel on my bookshelves (though I used to have some Ludlum). I have almost all of Berton’s books. I grew up reading Pierre Berton and still love those volumes dearly. Every Christmas it seemed there was a new one out (he knew marketing), and the “latest Berton” was always a must-have gift. He may still be my favourite Canadian author. And this is where all that love will end up.

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