I admit to visiting library and church book sales. Among the browsers, some look for romances, some for history, cookbooks, and how to do. Of course, I am interested in those rare finds that fit my maritime, carving, arts, and sci-fi interests. Since the prices are so reasonable, there is plenty of opportunities to satisfy a passing whim. Of course, we wouldn’t pay full price for it at a retail book store, but there is little to hinder an experimental purchase for a dollar or two. I have some beautiful art books on my shelves that I couldn’t have afforded retail when they were first published.
There is one section of these sales that generally seem to get ignored. They’re not off in a dark corner, but people tend to brush by their offerings and go on to more select topics. These are not old classics from the 1930-s or so. Many get bought to go to cottages and camps as shelf reading material.
Nope, the ones I am talking about are much more recent than those. I understand that these books are most likely to be pulped, composted, or just dumped at the end of the sale. Here you will find the last national administration’s tell-all scandal books, biographies of easily forgotten politicians, and ghost-written books by or on the giants of enterprise or technology. This last category seems targeted at convincing us that these little people stand in the same ranks as the Salks, Einsteins, and Lincolns. This area also includes the forgettable recent celebrity bios and kiss-and-tell jobs on movie and television personalities.
I’m not sure I understand the economics of publishing many of these books. They must make a quick profit for their publishers within weeks because within months, they begin to appear heavily discounted on tables at booksellers. It then seems to be a short jump to the church or Library book sale.
It would be interesting to analyze sales patterns for second-hand books because I think some topics seem very durable, while others lose widespread approval rapidly.