Book sale changes

Posted: March 16, 2013

The Winchester Star

Gail Santos of Winchester sorts books recently at the Bowman Library near Stephens City for the upcoming Friends of the Handley Regional Library Used Book Sale. She has been a volunteer sorter for three years. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
Barbara Dickinson, executive director of the Friends of Handley Regional Library, and used book sale chairman George Schember work on a new layout for the sale. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

Stephens City — Regular attendees of the Friends of Handley Regional Library’s bi-annual used book sale might need to rethink their strategies this year.

Without any huge donations to work around in the spring sale, organizers focused on changing the layout to improve the flow of traffic and better showcase the more than 20,000 items offered, said Barbara Dickinson, executive director of the Friends.

“Longtime book sale users will have a map that shows where the book categories have moved,” said Dickinson, a Winchester resident.

The sale will begin with a preview night for members from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday in the Mary Jane and James L. Bowman Library at 871 Tasker Road near Stephens City.

Memberships cost $10 and will be available at the door.

The sale will continue from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and March 23. Admission is free and open to the public.

The spring sale marks a departure from the norm in a few other small ways, said George Schember, chairman of the book sale committee.

This will be the first time in about a decade for the sale to have a price increase, he said.

The cost of a hardback book is increasing by 50 cents to $2, which makes it comparable to other sales in the area — “but still a very low price.”

The rest of the price list stayed the same, with trade paperbacks, DVDs and CDs at $1 each, unopened CDs at $2, and audio books at $3.

Mass-market paperbacks, children’s books, audiotapes and videotapes sell for 50 cents each.

Organizers are also breaking with tradition and bringing back some items that did not sell in its fall book sale, Schember said.

About 2,000 compact discs remain from a collection of more than 4,000 donated in the fall.

The CDs cover a variety of artists, but a large number are bluegrass and country music.

“It is rare that we do that. Usually at the end of a sale, you have sold all the good stuff,” said Schember, a Winchester resident.

The policy of starting fresh each time is also based on the large number of donations received in the six months between each sale, Dickinson said. The Friends have limited storage space, and the lobby and one of the meeting rooms at the library will be stuffed with items.

“But it was such a unique collection in the number and type of music,” she said. “I remember Friday and Saturday, people were still combing through it because it was their kind of music.”

Although the sale didn’t receive any similar large donations this spring, it had a few smaller collections, Schember said. One man donated a collection of about 50 books on military history ranging from aircraft to warships to “midget submarines.”

Last week, someone brought in a collection of biographies of Elvis Presley, he said. Some of the titles include “The Boy Who Would be King,” “Priscilla and Elvis” and “The Elvis Files: Was His Death Faked?”

Other people highlighted in the extensive biography section include Newt Gingrich, Ted Koppel, Catherine the Great, Jane Austen, Princess Grace and President Thomas Jefferson.

In the history section, topics include Pearl Harbor, ancient Greece, women in British-controlled India, Irish rebellions and the Wild West.

People who want to try some new cuisine can browse cookbooks on bread, grilling, wok and stir-fry, along with Middle Eastern and various diet foods.

Of course, the Civil War section is always strong, with this year’s offerings including books on Mort Kunstler’s art, abolitionist John Brown, camp life and shipwrecks.

Many of the categories have been moved around so people can see them better without the benefit of adding more space, Dickinson said. Several of the categories will move to the lobby to join the audio-visual items.

The book sales — the Friends hold two each year — are the organization’s main source of income, she said. The 2012 fall sale, which is always larger, raised more than $22,000, and the spring sale about $21,000.

More than half of those sales are made at the preview party and the first public sale day, she said. Because many of the early buyers are dealers who buy in bulk, a fast checkout table will be available for those with fewer items.

The sale consistently attracts second and third visits, since patrons know that new items are constantly joining the displays — from storage or new donations, she said.

For the last three years, the Friends has given about $15,000 toward operating costs at the three area libraries — Bowman, Handley (in Winchester) and Clarke County (in Berryville), Dickinson said. They donate about $13,000 toward children’s and young adult programming, and were a major sponsor of the centennial book “The Handley Regional Library: The First One Hundred Years,” released this winter.

Employees also help the library’s holdings by reviewing donations before the sale and removing about $25,000 worth of books, DVDs and CDs that won’t have to be purchased , she said. These are added to the collections of the libraries.


The preview night for members will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday in the Bowman Library at 871 Tasker Road near Stephens City. Memberships cost $10 and are available at the door. The public sale will continue from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and March 23. Contact 540-662-6046, ext. 31, or

— Contact Laura McFarland  at