Crowds flock to Houston County Old Book Sale

jmink@macon.comMay 3, 2013 

By noon Friday, Houston’s Old Book Sale had already raised about $25,000 for libraries

PERRY -- On a cloudy Friday afternoon, Josh Hager could be found in the back of a building at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, balancing boxes with dozens of hardback and paperback books.

It wasn’t an unusual sight, as people lugged carts, grocery bags and purses brimming with used books. The Houston County Friends of the Library Old Book Sale continues Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., and organizers expect a crowd for its half-off sale. In fact, readers have packed the building since the sale began Thursday.

“We have been slammed,” said Pam Yates, co-manager of the sale. “In the beginning, we had boxes of books under every table. Now, back in the children’s section, everything is off the floor and on the table.”

The sale started with about 90,000 books grouped into categories, which range from vampires to the Civil War to cookbooks. By noon Friday, the sale had generated about $25,000 for Houston County’s libraries. It’s the ninth year for the sale, which has raised a total of $200,000. The funds mainly are used to help the libraries purchase books, Yates said.

And the sale is important to people from local residents to out-of-state visitors, who travel to the sale each year.

“You can buy a whole grocery sack of books for $20,” Yates said, “and a (new) best-seller usually costs that much.”

Bonnie Berry, of Kathleen, ventures to the sale every year. She waits to buy a majority of her books at the sale because she can find most of the books she wants there -- and then some, she said.

Berry navigated a loaded cart down aisles of books. She had picked up about 60 and was looking for more.

“We have more books than we have time for,” she said.

Volunteer Marilyn Meusel walked through the sections, arranging books and chatting with buyers. Her main task is pricing children’s books, and she enjoys meeting patrons and seeing the different topics that interest people. Like previous years, there has been a steady flow of buyers, despite the popularity of electronic books, Meusel said.

“We have always had that fear, that (electronic books) are going to affect us,” she said. “But we have had over 400 (customers) so far today, and this is a work day.”

Customers, such as Hager, flock to the sale to stock up on a variety of inexpensively priced books. With three children, Hager, of Kathleen, snagged dozens of children’s books, but he also picked up some for himself. The family found so many books they were forced to pile their boxes near the back of the building.

“You should see the boxes of books we have back there,” he said.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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