Saturday was the first day of the 30th annual book sale at Flower Memorial Library in Watertown, and while people were buying boxes full of books, the Friends of the Library group has plenty of more books to keep the makeshift market going for two more weeks.
"I would say we sorted between 30,000 and 40,000 books this summer for the sale," said Estelle A. Guardino, a member of the Friends of Flower Memorial Library. "Usually at the end of the first week, we bring out books that we didn't have room for."
The event, which started as a small fundraiser in 1978 and originally lasted for one day, has grown over the years and takes over much of the open space in the library for two weeks every fall. The group estimated it will raise about $10,000 from the sale. The money goes directly back into the library, usually to support the adult fiction section.
With a wide variety of books to choose from, it's an event that many return to every year to get new reading material for the winter.
"I've been here before and I collect fiction books mainly," said Stephen T. Simpson, Black River, as he showed off his latest find — "Tropic of Cancer" by Henry Miller. On his second trip through the library Saturday morning, he was picking out classics that were in good condition. All in all, he said, he would take home about 30 books for the day, including a new copy of "The Tibetan Book of the Dead."
"They have everything here. It's really amazing," he said as he moved from the fiction section on the second floor to the nonfiction, hardcover area in the rotunda.
In the children's section, in a room to the south of the rotunda, children and parents sat on the cold, marble floor and pawed through collections of books from Dr. Seuss to classics like the Boxcar Children.
"I like chapter books, not the long chapter books, but the shorter ones," said Madeline Silva, 8, Watertown, who was sitting on the floor with her mother, Karin S., her 5-year-old brother, Matthew, and her 2-year-old sister, Abby. "I really like Nancy Drew because it's interesting and it's a mystery."
Her brother, on the other hand, was looking for books on Skippyjon Jones so his mother could read to him at night.
"We're trying to narrow it down right now," Mrs. Silva said. "But we'll probably leave with 20 books or so. And then we'll come back later on for the bag sale."
The bag sale, which starts Nov. 3, is the real bargain of the sale. While books are very affordable before the bag sale — hardcover for $1, paperbacks for 50 cents and children's books for 25 cents — you can walk away from the bag sale with an entire bag of books for $1 or a box of books for $2. The sale ends Nov. 8 and is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
"We have a large selection of just about everything," Mrs. Guardino said. "We have some things that are especially rare, like coffee table books and records — things that you might not be able to find other places."