Booksales of America

I have not been writing for a while, for two reasons:

  1. I started my food blog. I had lots to share. Too much of my energy was going into not writing about food.
  2. I was not sure in what direction this blog is going.

I started out writing, to share things that I have learnt in the last few years of living in this country– working, not working, doctors, shopping, home keeping and more. I was aiming mainly at people like myself, who were sort of floating in this new country, trying to make it feel like home. I am not sure, I am using the right tools/ nor am writing about the right things, cause I do no seem to be able to getting to them.

Today, I decided to write about how I shop for books. 

I grew up in a house, where books filled cupboard and shelves and were all around. Newspapers were delivered to the door every morning and magazines came in the mail.

When I had to move to the United States, I had to chose only a few books that would fit in the two luggage pieces that were going to travel across the world with me. Being practical, I only brought the books I would use here– cookbooks.

My apartment looked blank and empty for many months. I frequented the used books section of the public library and brought home a few. I knew there were other libraries that had a better selection, but we didn’t have a car and I only went to places easily accessible by my feet of public transport. When we rented a car, to travel, I also made a stop at the libraries to see what they had. Very very slowly I built a collection on one shelf of my hand me down Ikea shelf.

During my first school break, I started looking at used bookstores. Housing Works in Soho, and The Strand in Union Square, became my regular haunt. If I found a good book for a few dollars, I always bought it. My Montessori trainers, suggested buying at least one book each month to add to my collection to read to children. (I was teaching at a Montessori school then.) I took this to be even for adult books, for my life.

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Cookbooks at the Strand. Books here are used and new. But always priced lower than what is marked on the cover.

Despite the cheap books available online, I am not a huge fan of buying online. I like my stores! I like going shopping for books on their shelves and talking to attendants about what they have read and what they enjoy. I do not want these stores to close, and will encourage them as much as I can. But let’s be real. Full price books are EXPENSIVE!! So my book collection was very very slow.

On one random drive to Nyack, in the Hudson Valley, I chanced upon a used book-sale. The friends of the Nyack Public Library, had an annual event where they sold used and like new donated books for a dollar or two. It blew my mind!!! I bought about two dozen books for about twenty dollars that day.

I quickly realized that this was very different from the used book section most public libraries housed.

I chanced upon a couple of other sales in the same way, on a road trip somewhere or thanks to a flyer in a cafe. More often than not, I was very impressed by how the sales were organized. There would be books categorized by genre. The categorization was so good, that books on travel were often separated from travel writing.  They have biography, writing, reference, fiction, romance, mystery, foreign language, history, cookbooks, special edition and more.

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Montclair, NJ — Superbly organized into sections.

Overtime when I returned from one of these sales, I was so happy with my buys, I decided to look out for them. But how? Eventually, I realized there was a pattern to these awesome sales. They happen periodically. I looked up friends of the library and finally landed on the best site of all.

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Danbury CT

If you are even remotely interested in acquiring books, in reading or just browsing through books and maybe chancing on something you like, subscribe to this site. It lets you chose the region of where you live and then sends out weekly emails with sales happening in a 50-250 mile radius of where you live.

There is always a sale going on somewhere. I have gone to a few that have been really really disappointing. I mean there are book sales and there are BOOK SALES.  I personally consider it worthwhile only if there are over 10,000 books. ( I have been to some that only have 200.)

On the website or in your emails, look for sales that have an * or that say, “big sale”, “exceptional sale.”

In most of the sales, books are priced at 50cents to $1 for children’s books and $1-$2 for adult fiction and nonfiction. Many a time, the last day of the sale is what they call bag day. When you get a whole bag of books (10-20 depending on the size.) for 5 dollars or so.

These book sales are places I will gladly spend my weekend. 🙂
My apartment now is a very different place with all the books it houses.

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My favorite ones around Manhattan are

  • Nyack’s friends of the library sale. (The town is wonderful. Lots of good food around. Besides the library is close to the Hudson and has a lovely view of the river from its top floor.)
  • Montclair and UpperMontclair have separate sales. Both are absolutely worth it. Superb!! (Again the town of Montclair is a great place to spend an afternoon after book shopping.)
  • Danbury in Connecticut. There is not much to do around here. But its a great sale.
  • I would suggest the one in Greenwich, CT, but the sale is not as well organized as the other ones.
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Danbury, CT 

P.S– Now we have a car and we drive to these places. But when we didn’t, We’ve often rented to go to the sales and of course even look and eat at new places in new areas of the country.

P.P.S– Since I keep track of these and have been sharing my email address with a bunch of bookstores, Strand once sent out an email about closing a warehouse in Brooklyn. All books had to go and they had a box for $30. These books were like new. I went a little crazy and bought so many children’s books to use in my classroom, to read to the kids. YAY!!!!!

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Box from the Strand’s warehouse sale. $30!! The books were like new.
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The warehouse Strand closed in the winter of 2014.





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