Bonanza of books

Shoppers hit AAUW sale for good reads, good bargains

Shoppers hit AAUW sale for good reads, good bargains

April 26, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - There was at least one place Wednesday where Jerry Falwell could lie down with the devil.

Books focusing on the preacher and the sinner were on a table at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

People flocked to the annual American Association of University Women book sale to scoop up a mixed bag of cheap reads and cram them in tote bags.

Anita Bartgis of Frederick, Md., needed banana boxes to haul the mountain of used books she bought.

For five boxes of romance and mystery paperbacks - about 350 total - she spent $175.

Bartgis said she likes to read, but on this day, she was replenishing her eBay stock, not her coffee table.

"It pays for my habit," she said of her online auction Web site business.

There were about 40,000 books from which to choose, book sale coordinator Jeanne Stoner said. There was no danger of running out, yet hardcore readers, collectors and merchants got there early.


Amy Bowden, another Internet book seller, arrived from Salisbury, Md., at around 9 a.m., an hour before doors opened for the 44th annual sale. The line outside was moderate.

Within 30 minutes, she said, the line snaked around the parking lot.

Around noon, as bags and boxes groaned from the bulk of inexpensive treasures being taken home, Sheri Specht, the AAUW chapter's treasurer, said volunteers who put on the sale feel the strain, too.

Many are in their 70s and spend several hours a week throughout the year, organizing and pricing books.

Specht, a former chapter president, said there's been no decision about whether to hold the sale again next spring, unless there's more help.

"We've got the organization down to a science, but the bodies are tired," she said.

The chapter expects to take in about $35,000 during this year's sale, which runs through Sunday, Stoner said. The money goes to scholarships, Boonsboro's fire department and other causes.

Margaret Banzhoff of Williamsport had her 11 grandchildren in mind while buying $64 worth of books.

Banzhoff's daughter, Beth Swope, also of Williamsport, outdid her mother by spending $70.35.

Swope picked out humor books, some biographies, something on knitting. She also bought a large Webster's dictionary.

"No more cheating at Scrabble," she joked.

Leah Boyer of Glengary, W.Va., was shopping for more serious rule-breaking as she browsed for murder mysteries.

She said she stuffs the same orchard box each year with books because the handles are handy.

Swope said there's always room at home for more books.

"Every year, I go through and donate what I've read ... and that way they keep recycling," she said.

If you go

What: Annual book sale by Hagerstown branch of American Association of University Women

When: Today and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 3 p.m.

Where: Washington County Agricultural Education Center, south of Hagerstown

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