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Twice a year in Ithaca something wonderful happens: The Tompkins County Public Library has its Friends of the Library Booksale. They open up a vast labyrinth in their book warehouse to the public and let them seek their own Minotaurs in what sometimes feels like a heroic quest. This morning I got up at 4:30AM and trucked down (well, took a taxi) to sit in line for a couple of hours in order to be one of the first ones in the door (I ended up being #75, a decent spot for the first crowd they let in). While I went alone, this being Ithaca I happened to be in line next to a member of my writers’ group and their spouse, and we chatted until the Maven of the List came and gave us our talismanic number slips which allowed us to flee the rain and sit in Ithaca Bakery and fortify ourselves for the coming quest.

The doors opened at 8AM and the rush was on. Once inside you can follow the map to your preferred subject areas, and I went first to the RPG game section, only to be saddened by seeing a tween empty most of  a shelf into their box. There is a rule that you cannot stack or hoard books but he made a beeline away towards the cashiers. I did find a shelf of Chaosium Call of Cthulhu books, but unsure of their value I only took a few. I should explain here that I go to the Booksale as both a book lover and a seller (one of my sidelines is selling OOP academic and literary titles online), and the RPG area usually has plenty of fodder for my inventory, but this year the pickings seemed lean. Sadly, I found out later that most of those books were well worth getting, but that happens at the Booksale sometimes, as in the rush to find things you sometimes miss a good thing right in front of you.

I headed to the “Collectors’ Corner” net because I heard that there were some signed Harlan Ellison books there, and I found three excellent titles all for under $20.00:

After that I went to my favorite areas: literary criticism, anthropology, social theory, SFF, comics, and finally the CD section. Because it’s Ithaca you can find rare international music on the shelves, and this year I found a great CD of Peruvian acoustic dance music, as well as a few Putumayo titles and a Samite CD I didn’t have. By about 9:15AM I had my quota of 50 books (a limit on the first day to keep the crews of scanner-wielding booksellers from completely overrunning the place). And then I had to go work a full day at the bookstore, where I ended up processing most of the haul my boss and co-workers brought in.

In the end, I spent (with the Ellisons) about $250. That’s a significant outlay for someone in my pay grade, but what I got for it was about $500 in stock for my online store, $75 in Amazon credit, and 23 books and 5 CDs for myself. Here are the books I’m keeping besides the signed Ellisons:

I also got a few books recently from other sources. While discussing whisky and books on Twitter a few weeks ago the Folio Society decided to send me a book because they liked one of my tweets. And so arrived a slipcased edition of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood in a lovely sealed envelope that I was initially loathe to open because it was so cool:

Jeff and Ann Vandermeer had a booksale of their own recently, and I landed a couple of choice titles. I also found another book in my package, to my great delight:

So now I am quite sated with books. Time to go read . . . .

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