Come. Shop. Read. Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Used Book Sale will have more books than ever before

Published 6:57 am Sunday, March 19, 2023

Story by Mary Richardson

“Shop early and shop often,” exhorts Polly Cole, chair of the Used Book Sale at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. The sale will have more books than any year in the group’s history. “We will be replenishing the tables fast and furiously,” Cole said. “So what’s on the table at any one moment might be sold and replaced at the next moment. We have many people who come every day of the sale.”

Dates of the sale are Friday through Sunday, March 24-26. It will be again held in the EDS gym at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, 715 Kirkman. Hours are 8-6 p.m. on Friday, March 24, 8-4 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, and 11-4 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, the day of the popular $5 bag sale.

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Proceeds from the sale are given to local nonprofit agencies. After the 2022 book sale, $23,000 was distributed to the Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Girlie Girls Mentoring Program Inc. and Bethesda House, a program designed to help ex-inmates “rise up and walk.” This year’s recipients will be announced before the sale.

Volunteers work for months sorting books into categories, and these categories change from year to year. This year the new categories are Louisiana cookbooks, true crime, and Presidential and first lady biographies.

Prices for the books will be the same as last year with one exception. A dollar has been added to Louisiana cookbooks, so they will sell for $4. Other prices are $3 for hardbacks, $1 for trade paperbacks, two for $1 for regular paperbacks, $3 for cookbooks, and $1-$2 for children’s books. CDs and DVDs are $2, and LP albums are $1.

Once again, some books will be chosen as “blue ribbon” books. These books are just too valuable to sell for $3, said Cole. “We have books that are selling on eBay for more than $100. We don’t charge that much – but more than the usual $3.”

This year several illustrated cookbooks by John Folse will be on the blue ribbon table.

The famous “$5 a bag” sale will take place on Sunday. People are given sturdy bags and totes and pay a flat $5 for as many books as they can stuff into them. Last year Cole and another volunteer, Deborah Fontenot, stuffed a couple bags as an experiment to see how many books they could fit in. They stuffed in 27, but even more could fit if people selected smaller books, Cole said.

Every year the sale takes on a new personality depending on what books have been donated. This year, Cole says, is “the year of science fiction and fantasy.” This category has continued to grow, and is popular with all generations of readers. This year, buyers will find both hard cover and good quality paperbacks by such famous authors as Robert Heinen, Edgar Burroughs, and Isaac Asimov.

Another new emphasis is books that help collectors identify what is valuable and what is not. Book topics include items such as spoons, coins, clocks, pottery, milk glass, and carnival glass.

“These books will help you identify things you’ve found in flea markets, or that chair you got from your grandmother,” Cole said.

One category that is always popular is children’s books, and, once again, Cole said there are some beauties. “We have board books, picture books and chapter books,” she said, “and some are incredibly beautiful. “

Cole and the volunteers are able to spot cultural trends by noting the types of books that come in.

“We have a large selection of parenting books – everything from how to provide for special needs children to how to survive the teenage years,” she said, “but this year we don’t have a single book by either James Dobson or Dr. Spock. Evidently parents have moved on!”

This year the number of jigsaw puzzles has astounded the committee. “There are more than 100, and there are puzzles for every taste!” she said. “You can tell what people were doing during the pandemic.”

Cole leads a core group of volunteers from Good Shepherd as well as book enthusiasts from the community who organize the sale – Annette Ballard, Amy Allen, Gina Ardoin, Pam Clark, Deb Fontenot, Karen Garber, Kay House Hart, Debbie Howrey, Cheryl LeBlanc, Aimee Monk, Polly Norman, and Kathy Griffith. These people organize the sale, working weekly for most of the year. More people help during the sale itself, especially with setting up and replenishing books on the tables.

This year Cole is also asking the community for help in the days leading up to the sale.  “We need people to volunteer to put out the books!” she said. The critical times are 10 to 3 p.m. on March 21-23, which are the Tuesday through Thursday before the sale starts on Friday. People who are interested in volunteering can message Cole through the Facebook page “Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd Used Book Sale.”

For information updates, check the book sale’s Facebook page.