Bargain hunters hit AAUW book sale early

April 25, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- For bibliophiles, Wednesday was a chance to drive home with Stephen King, Mark Twain and other authors -- well, at least their work.

Bargain hunters arrived at the American Association of University Women's book sale early and in great volume.

"We had 335 in the first 20 minutes," said Flossie Murdock, a volunteer.

Before the opening of the sale -- which runs through Sunday at Washington County Agricultural Education Center, south of Hagerstown -- a line of people wrapped around the building, volunteer Nina Wells said.

"They come rushing in with their boxes and bags, and sweep things off the tables," said Dottie Cochrane, a volunteer and former sale chairwoman.

Many people left with stuffed tote bags or boxes they wheeled out on hand trucks.

Even though paperbacks started at 50 cents and hardbacks at $1, some spent hundreds of dollars.

Kay Rubin and her daughter, Mary Rubin, annual customers, were in that category.


"They spend big bucks," sale coordinator Jeanne Stoner teased.

Lee Smith of Hagerstown sat outside on a bench, next to his purchases, away from the bustle for a while.

"I come down every year and pick up 25 or 30 paperbacks, ... mostly mysteries," he said. His favorite authors include David Baldacci, Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Deputy Mike Knight picked up dozens of paperbacks for the Washington County Detention Center's library.

After choosing "a little bit of everything," Knight asked for westerns, which he said inmates are fond of.

"We have so many books at home, we could open a library," Kay Rubin said, surrounded by stacks of books she and daughter were adding to their collection.

Mary Rubin said she realizes she buys a lot. But she said she feels better when she adds up how much her books would have cost at full price. Last year, that came to more than $2,000.

The sale brings in about $35,000 to $40,000 for the AAUW, which distributes proceeds through scholarships and donations to Washington County Free Library and other causes, Stoner said.

At about noon, despite the early flurry, dozens of tables were covered with thousands of softcover and hardcover books, VHS tapes, CDs, DVDs, magazines and ephemera.

Stoner said about 40,000 books were on display, a little less than usual.

Plenty of work goes into the sale, she said.

Throughout the year, volunteers accept, sort and price books at Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown.

Inmates from Maryland Correctional Training Center, south of Hagerstown, unloaded the books once they arrived at the ag center.

There was talk last year that the annual sale was short on volunteers and might end soon. But Stoner said the AAUW committed to at least one more, in 2009.

The book sale has its place in local culture. "I think it's a legend," Stoner said. "I just think it's part of Hagerstown."

If You Go

What: American Association of University Women book sale

When: today and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday (half-price day), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday (bag sale), noon to 3 p.m.

Where: Washington County Agricultural Education Center, Sharpsburg Pike, south of Hagerstown

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