Thursday, March 19, 2009

2009 Book Hunting for Nancy Drew #1

I love book sales! Between getting there early, the nervous anticipation in waiting in line as to what will happen once the doors open and everyone makes a break for it, and the interesting items you find once you rush the place and try and grab what you can before the tables and shelves become mobbed!

I used to go to two sales a year when I lived in Texas: The Lubbock library sale each October and the Amarillo library sale each summer. At the Lubbock sale, if you were a member of the library, you got a preview day to attend early before the general public. It started around 9am and people would start getting in line about 6am or earlier. I would get there between 5:30 and 6:30. You bundled up and set out your chair in line sometimes staying in the car until more and more people started arriving. There were book dealers in line and even teachers or home schoolers. Collectors like me. There were two areas I targeted: the children's general area and then the collectible/rarer books section. I usually hit the children's section first and sent my husband or anyone else that was with me to the collectibles area. The object was not to look at each individual book closely but to grab everything that was recognizable and then go through it all later. If you didn't, it would be gone quickly! I used to find a nice well rounded amount of books in both sections. Never anything too vintage though. And sometimes I would find things for my collection, other times I would resell on eBay to support my collecting habit! The Amarillo sale was smaller and not as good, mostly library bound editions in the children's section the last two years I attended.

One of the interesting things about standing so early in line is listening to the stories of those in line who do this for a living. There are quite a few regulars to these sales who drive around the country hitting them. You can look for sales at I think that would be fun to do one year of just hitting a few major sales! These dealers always mentioned a sale out in Arizona which was the HUGEST sale they'd been to, the VNSA sale, each February. Over 600,000 books they boasted--and thousands of people attending. But you had to get there very early--some would go as early as midnight before the sale started. It always sounded intersting but a bit hectic too! One humorous story that was circulated involved two sellers who would get there very early. The fairgrounds in Phoenix is where the sale is held. They didn't open the gates to drive in, so people would line up in their cars outside for hours until the gates opened a couple hours before the sale started. One year these sellers fell asleep and the next thing they knew there was a barrage of honking, cars flying all round them and they quickly had to get it together and race inside. Once the gates opened the cars would race inside into the parking lot for spaces and then it was on! Like settling the Oklahahoma territory!

So once I moved out to Phoenix, I had to look up this sale. I went in 2006 with my mom and my husband. We got there about 4am, and were probably 30 to 40 cars back in line. Once they opened the gates, we drove in quickly and parked. As we were parking, I noticed a ton of people already standing in line and was crushed. I didn't realize that you could walk in and get in line! So we were probably 500-600 people back in line before we finally got in line and set up with chairs. I figured that I wouldn't find much. And the sale only lets in so many people to start with, so I was worried we might not even get in at first. With nervous anticipation the sale began and they let people in who were taking off in all directions. As we approached the front door, we barely made it inside before they cut off the group.

At this point there were thousands of people in line behind us still waiting! I took off and went to the children's area and began looking. Found some odds and ends, but then realized I had missed an area along the wall that had a lot of older chilren's series books--in dust jackets! But by the time I noticed it, it was mobbed and there wasn't much left. My mom and husband had gone to the rare books and sets sections and found a lot of Nancy Drew picture covers for me. All in all it wasn't a bad sale, but I learned some things for the next time I would go!

I didn't go for 2 more years. eBay prices had fallen, and I just wasn't as in to buying and selling on eBay. And you had to get up so early and freeze while waiting in line. But this year some friends wanted to go, so 5 of us got up early and made it down there about 3:30am. The sale started at 8am. To our surprise, the gates were open and so we could just drive in and park and there were not a ton of people there yet so we were probably 200 back in line. Apparently they started letting people drive in a year or two ago, so that was a plus! We set up chairs and had blankets. And it was COLD! I was freezing--In the 20s or low 30s for temps with a slight wind chill. We took turns going back to the car to warm up. I decided then and there, not doing this again! And I was totally sure about that...ha!

So once the sale opened, we stormed the place! I ran to the children's section with that table of old books in mind. But also in the back of my mind was the recent DUD of a LEAD law, what if there were no books I wanted!? The table that normally had the vintage books had other stuff. Crap I thought! So I darted among the tables and just found paperbacks and mostly hardbacks of other stuff. I finally saw a table with some vintage books but most had no dust jackets and I didn't see any Nancys. So I grabbed paperbacks and some other items that looked interesting and ran off to the rare area and sets where my mom and husband were. The rare area had little but the bonanza was in the sets area! There were tons of Nancy Drew picture covers, various editions, one in a dust jacket, other series too like Cherry Ames, Dana Girls, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, and Three Investigators. So I enjoyed that!

All in all, I found a few books to resell but also added to my own collection. There were some Scholastic Nancy Drew paperbacks from the mid-2000s that I was missing from my set and I'd been looking for the Grimm's Fairytales Nancy Drew Favorite Classic, and it was there! I also picked up some minty bright green APCL library editions of Nancy Drew which I like.

And are we going again? YEAH! Ha ha. We're just going to bundle up more and maybe take small tent next year to stay warmer. You think Phoenix is hot, but in February it's cold! Our friends found lots of good stuff too and my mom added a bunch of mystery books to her library, so it was a win-win all around.

If you're interested in attending this sale, visit the VNSA website. Next year's dates are Feb. 13 and 14th, 2010.


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