Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.

Budget Thursday: Book Rummaging

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I mentioned how second-hand bookstores can be intimidating for some. Those stores are child’s play compared to book rummage sales. The type of pandemonium that transpires is comparable I imagine to moonlight madness sales. I’ve experienced this from a salesperson’s perspective as well as the buyer. But fret not, because you too can survive with all your body parts intact with some of these tips.

Check out college bookstores. In case I haven’t mentioned it before I worked at a textbook store while attending college. The store held a yearly rummage sale and cleared out books where a teacher retired, or a particular book wasn’t suited for the course, or the professor simply wanted the latest edition. The rummage sale was a big perk, not to mention advantageous for research material. I was able to acquire many academic books on the topic of Ancient Egypt that ranged from everyday life to essays on the religion. Check your newspaper or the store’s website for dates and times.

Check out libraries. I learned also that my university’s library would also clear out books periodically. While I didn’t have much luck at the university library other libraries proved fruitful.

Get there early. Just like with any clearance sale, the sooner you get there the better books you may get. While better prices may occur closer to the end of a clearance the better books tend to be infrequent at that time. I’ve learned this the hard way. I have arrived close to the end of book sales, searched tirelessly through piles of books for several hours only to come out empty-handed. There is another issue to consider with book clearances: time.

Plan ahead. Scouring the racks for decent or relevant books is very time consuming. While it’s not likely to take an entire day to search through every spot for books it will certainly take a few hours. This can create a schedule conflict in your day. I recommend you plan accordingly, or if you have a bibliophile friend to make it a trip if you have engagements with said friend.

Be aware the entire stock isn’t out during a rummage sale. During a rummage sale books from various places and sections take days to bring out due to the accumulation over time. One day it may be an entire section of how-to books, then the next a stock of art techniques may fill the empty spaces. I’m not even certain calling and asking if a certain section will be available is even advised. People who work with books have to clear stacks of semi-organized sections at times, so it’s truly an issue of uncertainty from where a book is pulled or when. Conversely this is advantageous if the selection is poor on one day.

Find a silver lining. Spending hours looking may not provide anything despite early arrival. There are times when I arrived at a book clearance on the first day, scoured the books, only to yield no books. I don’t feel my time was always fruitless for various reasons. Sometimes my quests introduced me to a new bookstore, or a new friend, or even an employee who could defer me to places that provided better results. Sometimes the key to finding value for anything is to figure out what you wish to gain.

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