A local Friends of the Library (FOL) organization is holding their annual book sale this week in conjunction with the Cherry Blossom Festival. It opens at 10 a.m. on Thursday, and since the sale is fairly large, book dealers and dedicated readers start forming the line early. I usually skip this sale because I have to work, but it always pains me to miss this money making opportunity.
Every year, though, the FOL hosts a three-hour Preview Party, complete with refreshments, for members, who are allowed to buy books before the horde of locusts, I mean booksellers, descend upon the rows of coveted tomes. Of course, there’s a catch. There are different levels of membership, and each level can only buy only a certain number of books.
From the FOL website:
The level of membership will determine the number of books a member may purchase at the Preview Party. A Student ($10) or Individual ($25) Member is entitled to purchase as many as 12 books. A Patron/Couple ($50) may purchase 24 books and a Benefactor ($100) may purchase 48 books. Members are welcome to bring their own totes or boxes if desired.
I’ve been trying to do the math (not one of my strong points) to determine if purchasing a Benefactor membership would be worth the time, effort, and money. By joining at that level, I already would be $100 in the red. Ella and I would have to pick out 48 re-sellable books, each costing between $1 and $4. An average price of $2.50 per book would put us another $120 (48 X $2.50) in the red, for a total of $220. To break even, each of the 48 books would have to be worth at least $5.
The name of the game is profit, though. Breaking even doesn’t cover our time or our gas costs. To make money, each of the books would have to be worth at least $10. Now, I’m sure there will be plenty of $10 books there, but I’m also sure that I am not the only dealer who has this idea, and while there will be decreased competition at the Preview Party, I am confident there will others looking for those $10 books.
Just for the record, I also know that the membership fee is tax deductible, which helps a little at the end of the year, but not so much when writing a check in March.
I’ve been waffling about this for several days now. Is $100 too much money to spend just to attend a sale, with no guarantee of success, or should I just be confident that I will find enough high-dollar books to make it worthwhile?