• Home
  • Details of the Sale


It is hoped that your sale is large enough that enough people want to attend that they appear days in advance and want a “number”. At most sales people will appear up to a few hours before, put their boxes down, and return before the sale opens. At larger well-known sales, people do show up days in advance or write for their “number”. What this means is that you begin with “1”, and progress through as many numbers as you need. People will show up and, take their place. in line by the number they have been given. If you are just starting out, it is fine to say that you do not have a number system and that people will take their place inline as they arrive.


Adhering to your schedule is another crucial component to your book sale’s reputation. You must open at the time you say you will. You CANNOT open before your scheduled time. Dealers and patrons have read the schedule as you posted it and expect it to be adhered to. If you open early, it will be perceived that others had an unfair advantage in gaining access to your books. This could have quite a negative impact on your sale. If it is raining, let people into your lobby, if the line is long, enjoy the fact that when you open ON TIME everyone will feel as if you have given all an equal opportunity to access your treasures. You can stay open as late as you want; you do not have to close at the stated time. It is the opening time that is important.



You certainly do not want to run out of change at your sale, so make sure you open with an adequate bank each day. If you have a double price night or a half-price session, make sure you have enough change and bills so you do not have to frantically ask volunteers to empty their pockets.

Two cash boxes and six people at two cashier stations and six people on the floor is a good average for a sale held in an auditorium or community room. However, if you have 50,000 books or more and several tents, then you will obviously need a cashier, cashbox, and helper for each location, and several people on the floor. At the cashier station, there can be a couple of combinations. You can have one person add, one person take the money and make change, and one person bag. One person can add, take the money and make change, and one person can bag. One person can do all of the above, but the line will certainly move more slowly. Some combination of the first two is most desirable.


Your cashiers may potentially handle significant sums of money. Sometimes you must be selective in choosing cashiers. Some people will wish to cashier, and may not be able to handle the stress of a large order or of making proper change in a rushed situation. Assign these people as baggers, as necessary. It is difficult to refuse people a position; volunteers are hard to find, and you need them. However, if there is a potential risk to your income, you must do what is best for your organizations. Money should be counted each night, and cashiers should start with a new bank each day.

IMPORTANT: Taking checks

It is fortunately rare that you might receive a bad check. However, one bad check is one too many. The best procedure to follow is to ask to see a license for any purchase over $25.00 or any check purchase at all and to ask for a telephone number.


Security can be an issue as well. While most patrons are honest, there will be those who will change prices, take DVDs (a far more common occurrence these days), or even take a book. It is not easy to monitor the activity during a sale, however, it is important to be aware of these potential risks and take whatever precautions you can to make the sale pleasant for all.


This is the name given to those books people hide so they can be purchased more cheaply on a different sale day. It not only negatively impacts you, but your other customers are often witness to this act. It is important to watch for this through out the sale. Equally important is to check each evening for unusual collections of books in odd areas and/or for a number of books put in the wrong categories. A wise move is to “kick the boxes”. If you have put boxes under the tables which people can take when they make their purchases, kick them. Often, books are hidden under them so people can come the next day and collect them.

To that end, “floaters” become an important part of your staff for the day.

These floaters can also take purchases to a HOLDING AREA and add HIGH VOLUME ORDERS so people do not have to wait in line.

Obviously every customer is important to the success of your sale and should be treated well. You will find your dealers may be somewhat more demanding and provisions made for them will be appreciated.

If at all possible, it is advantageous to establish a high volume area for the book dealers or other high volume purchasers. These people collect a large number of books quite quickly and need a place to store them until they decide to sort through them and select their purchases.

One or more people should be available to staff this area exclusively. Again, this will depend upon whom your sale attracts.

The holding area must be a protected area. People who place their books here should not have to worry they will be touched.

Supply your staff with large cardboard so they can write the person’s name on it, and place it on their books. Give the dealer a smaller card with their name on it. The dealer shows the card as he adds books to those in the holding area.

Once a dealer completes his purchases, someone has to add their order. It is imperative you have competent people who can expedite an order that may be potentially hundreds of dollars.

It is not true that you cannot have too many people working. When your customers are on the floor looking at books and your sale is crowded, you cannot have people in their way, straightening or moving books. Areas need to be straightened, but at appropriate times, and an appropriate time may be at the end of the day so things are organized for the next day. If at all possible, you do want people to straighten during the day. It just has to happen when the opportunity presents itself.


No matter how much advice is given, it will not always fit your unique situation. Feel free always to experiment, to change, to be different, to have fun. Go to other books sales, observe, borrow ideas (remember, imitation is the greatest form of flattery), and make your sale as unique as you are.

© Friends of Connecticut Libraries

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software