As the Friends of the Library Old Book Sale got underway Thursday at Central City Park in downtown Macon, Carolyn Tye, of Byron, and her two children waited outside for almost an hour before doors opened at 10 a.m.
“It was cold outside, but it was worth it,” Tye said. “This is like Black Friday. It’s exciting.”
Tye encourages her children to read with her every day for at least an hour. Sometimes, Stephen, 12, and Allison, 10, tell her they’ve run out of material, but after purchasing $80 worth of books Thursday, they won’t have that excuse for a while, Tye said.
By noon, hundreds of people had browsed the more than 150,000 books available for purchase, many using luggage, personal shopping carts and rolling crates to move their hoard of printed words.
Organizers, patrons and volunteers alike said they were pleased with the Old Book Sale’s new location at Central City Park inside a former beverage distribution warehouse. The event was moved from the Wilson Convention Center, where it was held for two years.
“It’s just been perfect for us,” said Wendy Cassidy, president of the Friends of the Macon-Bibb County Library, referring to the warehouse building. “It’s a little rustic, but it’s clean and it’s dry and it’s heated and it has plenty of parking, which is what we really need.”
Mary Whitby, of Macon, picked out books on psychology, religion, needlepoint and history for her family and for her church.
“It’s very organized,” she said, referring to the inventory of books.
Whitby, who is disabled, described the event as being friendly for people like her. Besides the entrance ramp, which is wheelchair accessible, the aisles in between tables are wide to accommodate all the shoppers, and there are boxes available for those needing them to carry all their buys.
Alex Flora drove from Atlanta for his fifth yearly visit to the Old Book Sale. He picked out Ernest Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” and Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” and about a dozen other books.
The elderly friend who introduced Flora to the book sale five years ago has since passed away, so Flora returns in part to honor his legacy.
“It’s just something important for me to do every year,” Flora said.
Though the line to pay snaked around the floor of the warehouse, it moved quickly Thursday afternoon, with Flora reaching a cashier about 20 minutes after he got in line.
Near the halfway point, Flora passed Larry Caldwell and his “choice books” section, which included a 19th century bible signed by the archbishop of Philadelphia, a rare hard copy of Young and Gholson’s “History of Macon, Georgia,” priced at $450, and special editions of classic books by Jack London, Stephen Crane and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Thursday is the busiest day for the book sale, said Lt. Larris Wright, who is heading the five-deputy security team for the event. The Bibb sheriff’s lieutenant manned the entrance to the building, checking receipts as people left with their purchases, while other deputies patrolled the floor.
In the five years he has worked security for the book sale, he can only remember making one arrest, he said, and that was for check fraud.
“For the most part we just have honest people that come through here,” Wright said.
To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 744-4382.