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Piles and piles… and piles — and boxes, and more piles (you get the idea) — of books are sorted through at the library over the course of each year leading up to the Friends of C.H. Booth Library Book Sale which, this year, runs July 7-11.
John Renjilian is a rare book expert who volunteers each year for the book sale, sorting through and pricing the specials after the donated hard and soft cover reads are initially weeded through and categorized by volunteers. Every late spring/early summer, Mr Renjilian comes across some unusual, and sometimes valuable, books. Books designated as specials will be available through July 9, and will be included on the half-price day.
“We have more solid books than I think we’ve ever had,” said Mr Renjilian, who has exhibited at shows of some kind or another for 53 years.
He sometimes spends several hours researching and pricing books, looking for things that add or decrease value — such as signatures for the former and missing book jackets for the latter.
This year’s oldest prize is from 1683: New Dialogues of the Dead, a leatherbound book that will be priced at $1,000.
A ten-volume set, Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890), is priced at $1,500.
Not all treasures are so expensive.
Among other notables is Cosmopolitan Greetings Poems 1986-1992, which will be listed at $40. The book is signed and dated (on May 22, 1994) by author Allen Ginsberg.
Of course, just what is interesting varies from person to person, and expense, too, is relative.
An Autobiography by Richard Avedon, signed and dated in 1993, is priced at $150.
Helen Keller’s Midstream: My Later Life (1929) is signed “Very Cordially Yours, Helen Keller” and has an asking price of $250.
“There’s a lot of modern literature, a majority of which were by beat generation authors,” said Mr Renjilian, adding that notables within this category are books signed by William Burroughs, and Carson McCullers.
“It was a well-curated collection. Lots of first editions, lots of signed editions — editions in different formats,” added Denise Kaiser, chair of the sale, speaking of the beat generation donation.
The library always receives comic books, but this year’s contribution is larger than in past years, highlighted by Walking Dead comic issue 19, which is to be sold for $65. Other comics in the series hold far less value and may be had for $4 apiece and up.
“It’s going to be a special year for the specials room,” Ms Kaiser added.
Of the more than 120,000 books, CDs, DVDs, and LPs, approximately one percent of the donations are designated for the specials room.
“Overall, I’m very excited,” Mr Renjilian said. “I think it’s going to be a special year, and it’s going to be fueled by the beat literature.”
“The people that really want these will be here in the first five minutes of the sale,” said Toni Earnshaw, chair of public relations for the sale. “We sell these for far less than on the retail market. That’s why we get so many people at the door at 7 am.”
The annual sale, now in its 43rd year, will take place at Reed Intermediate School, 3 Trades Lane. Hours are Saturday and Sunday, July 7 and 8, from 9 am to 5 pm; Monday, July 9, from 9 am to 7 pm (half price day); Tuesday, July 10, from 9 am to 7 pm ($5 bag day); and Wednesday, July 11, from 9 am to noon (free day). Numbered admission tickets for Saturday go on sale beginning at 7 am.
For more information, visit boothbooksale.org.