There’s a new trend this year at Hennepin County Friends of the Library Used Book Sales — No Scanners, at least not during the first few hours of a sale in some locations.
I noticed this today at the Augsburg Park Library sale in Richfield, MN. From 9am to 11:30am, the ban was in place. I found a couple bookscouts surprised by the ban since they said there was no mention of it on the hclib.org website, nor of the booksalefinder.com site.
I found scouting for books without technology refreshing. It’s like it used to be circa 2002 when no one had a scanner or smart phone to check resale prices. It’s just more fun, and you spend more time actually looking at the books instead of your device.
The prices at these sales are better, too. Hardcovers have been a dollar and softcover books 50 cents. As a book scout, you can afford to make some picking mistakes. You’ll almost always find more winners than losers.
Ideally, there would be no charge to visit a sale and never a ban on scanners. But, if I had to chose one or the other, it’s hard to say which is preferable. On the one hand, when you pay $5 to $25+ to use a scanner (usually in the form of a mandatory membership to the local Friends group for presale shopping rights) the cost really adds up during the Spring to Fall book sale season. On the other hand, you pick and buy only books you want. You don’t end up with books without resale value. With the scanner ban, you don’t pay to get into the sale, but you might end up spending a lot on books you don’t really want.
In the end, I think it really depends on the individual book sale. A ban at the Augsburg Park sale makes sense because it’s a really small sale and no bookscout would pay anything to preshop so few books. For a bookscout, requiring a Friends membership to presale at a large sale like the one at the Southdale Library in Edina, MN is better than a scanner ban because you know you’ll find enough books to cover the cost of entry.
I hoping that the trend returns to no charge for scanners and no scanner bans, but I’m not keeping my fingers crossed. For now, I just glad it’s Spring and the sales are back.
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