Book sale binds readers, dealers

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Shelly Birkelo
Saturday, March 1, 2014

JANESVILLE—Peter Dast stood in line for an hour Thursday afternoon before doors opened for the preview sale of the American Association of University Women's annual book sale.

He wasn't alone.

By the time the sale started, 20 others—primarily book collectors, sellers and dealers plus avid readers and book lovers--had joined him.

In a world full of electronic devices, there is still something special about holding a real book, said Emily Scheunemann, event chairwoman.

“It's an experience reading the book while holding it and looking at it. The pictures and diagrams in the book are much better,” she said, speaking as a reader of electronic as well as paper books.

Dast of Beloit has been attending the sale for at least 20 years. The former Madison bookstore owner was looking for "books that he expects people are looking for and for those he hopes people will be interested in."

Two hours later he was checking out with 150 hardcover and paperback books.

The sale provides Dast and his partner Jane Ketcham "a way to get inventory" for books they sell on the Internet and at two retail outlets--one in Beloit, the other in South Beloit, Ill.

If they weren't a deal, Dast said he wouldn't keep returning to the annual sale.

"They're not the cheapest or most expensive," he said of his book purchases.

But Dast said he and Ketcham are pleased to know sale proceeds will benefit somebody.

Book sale proceeds since 1936 have funded scholarships for local and national scholarships, Scheunemann said.

"That's something we support," Dast said.

Scheunemann said the Janesville chapter mailed 126 post cards plus promoted the sale on booksellers.com for the first time this year to reach a bigger audience than usual. It worked.

“This might be our best year yet,” she said.

Shoppers look for books on the American West and Indians in the history section. Others were interested in sewing and found books on making dolls and doll clothing in the hobbies category.

But the sale of an estimated 5,000 hardcover, paperbacks and magazines appeals to avid and casual readers as well. Customers can choose from books in an estimated 25 categories. Cost ranges from 50 cents to $2.

The most popular are John Grisham, Daniel Steele and Tom Clancy books, she said.

Scheunemann also said the AAUW books sale is a recycling effort.

“We always have many more books than people can buy,” she said.

“We store 100 boxes of books for next year's sale, take some to Goodwill if we can't use them and then the rest are recycled at the local recycling center,” Scheunemann said.

“People look at it,” she said, “as a treasure hunt.”

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