More people will file through the doors of the Museum at Campbell River this weekend than on any other two-day period of the year, if past years are any indication.
Each year, starting in mid-February or so, the museum begins collecting books donated by generous members of the community and fills its gallery for the largest sale of reading material in the region.
This will be the 15th time the event has happened, and despite what many might say about the rise of digital formats, the demand for physical books has continued to increase over the years, according to coordinator Erika Anderson.
“We’re stuck looking at all kinds of screens for more and more hours every day, it seems,” Anderson says, “but in the past five years the sales of physical books at this sale have doubled. I think we’re inundated with way too many screens these days, and I think deep down we all know that’s not good for us.”
For those who have figured that out – even if just on a subconscious level – walking through the doors of the museum this weekend is like a warm blanket and a mug of hot chocolate on a cold day.
“There are well over 20,000 books in this room,” Anderson says looking around at the gallery. “And there are more up front. And there are more in the back. I don’t even know how I would go about putting an accurate number on it. Maybe 30,000 altogether?”
And if you’re thinking it’s just a few new ones and whatever was left over after last year’s sale, think again.
“We don’t save anything after the sale is over,” Anderson says.
“Everything is brand new to us every year, so every year there are different sections that are bigger or smaller than other years, depending on what we get.”
This year, she says, they have an especially large Sci-Fi/Fantasy section, as well as a larger-than-usual number of French books.
“And when I first started, there was one table of kids books,” she says. “Now there’s this whole area,” she says, pointing to three tables just inside and to the right of the movable wall of the gallery, “and this whole section,” she says pointing off to the left, “and that little room just off the front. All children’s books.”
The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday (March 7) and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday (March 6), but Anderson has some advice to offer on when might be best to come by.
“If you don’t like crowds, don’t come right at the beginning, because there’s always a line-up when we open and there will be 200 people through those doors in the first 15 minutes of the sale,” she says.
“But while everyone wants first crack at the books, there’s still going to be so many left by mid-afternoon on Sunday that you won’t have enough time to go through them all, so don’t feel like you need to come right away if you don’t like being surrounded by people. Some of us who like books like them for that very reason,” she adds with a laugh.
But best of all, you can walk out of the museum with a canvas shopping bag full of new-to-you reading material for only $20 and know that it went to supporting the ongoing programming for the facility.
“It’s a really big fundraising weekend for us,” Anderson admits. “Even our school programs that are highly subsidized need these kinds of fundraisers to help pay for them.”
And if you’ve got an organization that would like a box – or twenty – of the leftover books once the sale is over, contact Anderson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you help them get cleaned up on Monday.
After all, they need to start fresh again next February gathering all new reading material for their 16th annual event.