A page turner: Macon’s Old Book Sale begins Thursday

hgoodridge@macon.comMarch 20, 2013 

  • If you go
    What: 45th annual Old Book Sale
    Where: Wilson Convention Center, 200 Coliseum Drive, Macon
    When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

It’s been a long time since Susan Caplan missed the Old Book Sale in Macon.

“I’m an old timer,” she said Wednesday while waiting in line for doors of the event to open at the Wilson Convention Center. “I remember going with my mother when it was at Westgate (Mall),” she said.

The sale, in its 45th year, features more than 100,000 books in 75 categories and runs Thursday through Sunday. Wednesday’s event was for members of Friends of the Library, the group that sponsors the sale.

Caplan waited in line with her friend, Craig Graham, and they did what they do every year -- plot a plan of attack before entering the seemingly endless rows of books.

“I have a list,” Caplan said. “I’d really like to read ‘Les Misérables’ and ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.’”

Judging from the roll carts and suitcases, she’ll probably be taking home much more than two books. Caplan said she recently donated four full crates of books to Friends of the Library “to make room for the crates I’ll bring home.”

“We love the Old Book Sale,” Graham said. “There are treasures in there you would not believe ... autographed books, antique books.”

This will be the first year that buyers can use credit cards, said Andy Newton, Friends of the Library president. “This is supposed to be the second-largest (book sale) east of the Mississippi,” Newton said. “We’ll get thousands and thousands of people, and people from different states.”

Thomas Utsey and his wife, Aline, traveled from Wilkesboro, N.C. The bookseller said it’s his first time at the sale, which he learned about on the Internet. He said he plans to sell the books he buys online.

Proceeds for the sale benefit local libraries. Newton said the group contributed $83,000 to local libraries in 2012 and $2,500 to the Ferst Foundation, a group that puts books in the homes of families in need.

“Our mission is to support public libraries and literacy efforts in the area,” Newton said.

The largest categories at the sale are religion and mystery/suspense, said Newton, who has been heading up the event for six years. While it still nets several thousand visitors, attendance has mostly stayed the same the past few years.

“We’re starting to experience the Kindle effect,” Newton said about electronic books impacting the sale of real books. “I got a letter recently from someone telling me they’re not going to buy as much this year because they have the Kindle.”

Fortunately for the Old Book Sale, there are people who wouldn’t think of reading an electronic book over a paper one.

“We despise the Kindle,” Graham said.

To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.

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