Hundreds crowd the Toronto Reference Library for the annual clearance book sale

Book lovers' dream sale

People sorting through used books
Toronto Reference Library clearance book sale. (March 14, 2019). Amanda Da Silva/Toronto Observer

Justin Wood rolls his metal dolly full of boxes out of the Toronto Reference Library with a look of success on his face, and a smile.

Rare book seller Justin Wood at the annual book sale at the Toronto Reference Library. (Monique Thompson/Toronto Observer)

Wood, who has been collecting and selling rare books professionally for five years in Toronto, came to the library’s annual used book sale Thursday, hoping to add more to his collection. He left with over 120 books after making two different visits to the event. 

“Everything is so cheap, this is like a clearance sale,” said Wood, who paid around $40 for the four boxes. 

The Treasure and Good Book Sale is organized by Friends of the Toronto Public Library and it is run by volunteers that are fundraising for the services and programs that the library offers. They have been fundraising since 1963, according to the Toronto Public Library’s website.

“I found a lot of Canadiana, so a lot of first editions of Canadian authors, so Stephen Leacock, Robertson Davies, all these old authors that actually do have, to this day, still have some collectability,” Wood said.

Wood has his own online business called Justin Daniel Rare Books, and hopes to have his own physical store in the next year. To date, Wood has amassed a collection of about 15,000 books that he stores and sells online from his apartment, and a warehouse.

“My apartment is really embarrassing, as you can imagine,” Wood said, with a laugh.

The Toronto Reference Library yearly book sale was held in the The Bram and Bluma Appel Salon for the first time ever. The Appel Salon is a large venue on the second floor where the Toronto Reference Library co-ordinates events and hosts guest speakers.

Lineup at Toronto Reference Library

Crowds of people gathered in the Appel Salon to purchase their books.  (Monique Thompson/Toronto Observer)

According to Karen Booth, the administrative support assistant with the Toronto Reference Library, the previous book sales were held in Beeton Hall on the first floor level of the building.

Booth said the Beeton Hall has a 100 person capacity, while the Appel Salon can hold 400 people.

The lineup to get into the Appel Salon for the book sale was a two hour wait. It started at the Yonge Street entrance, trailing through the first floor of the library, to the staircases up to the entrance of the Appel Salon.

There were many used books for sale ranging from fiction to non-fiction, magazines from National Geographic and other publications. Also up for sale were used vinyl records, cassette tapes, VHS movies and DVDs. The prices varied from 10 cents up to one dollar.

People crowded around a magazine dolly during the sale

Magazines at the Toronto Reference Library sale, March 14

The items that are sold are mainly publicly donated, while other books are taken out from the library’s inventory.

During the year, the Friends of the Toronto Public Library has a used bookshop in the branch called Book Ends. The funds collected go towards children’s literacy programs, according to the Toronto Public Library’s website.

“It’s amazing to see so many literature lovers here today being so patient and calm and friendly, waiting in long lines to find some literary treasures,” said Tanya Oleksuik, the communications officer at the branch.

Table with many books piled onto it while customers look at it.

One of many tables of used books where customers dig deep to find treasures, March 14. (Amanda Da Silva/Toronto Observer)

That was the case for first timers Al Janusis and Moira Garr. They heard about the sale on Facebook and decided to check it out, due to their love for books. They had to wait 40 minutes.

“Moira gave me a limit of 15 books, because I have bookshelves at home that are kind of overflowing, so whatever fifteen dollars can get me,” Janusis said, with a laugh. Garr laughed, too.

The type of books they were hoping to find included fiction, English classics, philosophy and literary theory.

“I did an English degree as an undergrad so that’s still my thing,” Janusis said.

The funds accumulated from the sale Thursday were $8,527, while the Book Ends store collected $1,479, bringing the total amount to $10,006. The Toronto Reference Library sold about 30,000 items in one day.

Watch the booklovers at the Toronto Reference Library’s annual book sale:




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Posted: Mar 31 2019 10:13 pm
Filed under: News