BELGRADE — At the sound of an alarm at 9 a.m. sharp, customers rushed into a book sale at Belgrade Central School to build stock for their businesses or personal collections.

The sale was put on by the Friends of the Belgrade Public Library, who maintain the building and property for the institution. More than 5,000 books were sorted and stacked on tables and bleachers in the gymnasium. The sale was donation-only and organizers said booksellers are usually the first in line for the sale, which started in 2001.

First in line were husband and wife Chester and Emily Van Why, owners of Used Books in Searsport. Chester Van Why said traveling to used book sales is one of the best ways to keep his store stocked with necessary items.

“We have a lot of things we look for (and) there’s a lot of things that we need,” he said. “We try to have something for everyone that walks in the door.”

As both Van Whys leisurely strolled through the aisles selecting texts, other sale-goers took a more frenetic approach. Kevin Nowak, of Saco, spent the first hour of the sale hastily scanning bar codes on books to check their prices on Amazon.

Nowak made out with two tote bags of books, which he classified as a “fine” haul. He said he quit his day job in favor of spending the bulk of his time on selling books.

“It’s not easy at all,” he said. “If you’re doing 50, 60 hours a week and you make some money and it doesn’t feel like work, that’s a good thing to do.”

“If you’re on Amazon, you’re invisible and you’re the next guy with that item,” Nowak added. “I try to get as much as a can for (an item based on its condition).”

Nowak said he was headed to more hot spots for book collecting, but he would not say where, hoping not to tip off any competition.

Book sale organizer Linda Bacon said the winter sale usually brings in $900 to $1,500 in proceeds. The summer book sale, held July 4, brings in about double that.

“We get more customers because people take the whole week off,” she said. “Weather is a big factor for the winter sales.”

Friends of the Belgrade Public Library owns and maintain the building and grounds that house the library, while the town pays for staffing and the library’s contents. Friends member Judy Johnson said the group’s annual costs are around $12,000, meaning the sales account for about three months’ worth of operating costs.

Friends of the Belgrade Public Library has five more fundraisers planned for this year, the next being Basket Bingo with the Belgrade Fire and Rescue Department on April 5.


Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.