If ever there was a doubt that traditional books were giving way to e-books and the like, you only had to attend the recent CFUW Milton and District Book Sale on May 13 and 14th at Milton Mall, to lay that thought to rest.
Kathy Lawdays, CFUW book sale organizer shared, “We have been expecting this type of shift in reading habits for several years but it doesn’t seem to have happened. It seems nonfiction books are not as commonly available for e-readers nor are books for young children. Many people still prefer the feeling of a good book in their hands.”
Early Friday morning on May 13th, scores of bibliophiles showed up to scour through the abundant selections of books, puzzles and children’s board books that made up the CFUW Milton and District Book Sale’s 47th year.
Kathy identifies these folks as the ‘keeners’ for prime book selection and often they are same ones who return in the last few hours on Saturday, to take advantage of the 10 dollar stuff-a- bagwith- books deal that many customers load almost beyond capacity.
The quality of books that has been donated has improved steadily over the years and the addition of puzzles has been a great success. “We even had mini garage sales during COVID to sell the puzzles and earn some scholarship funding.”
Usually the Book Sale rolls out at the end of March, beginning of April but due to logistical issues, the sale was moved to mid-May. Lots of people are already thinking about summer, cottages and the comfort of a book to read during the season. We heard a lot of appreciative comments from customers that we were back after our forced hiatus,” says Kathy.
In spring 2020, COVID made its unwelcome appearance just two weeks before the sale was ready to open and CFUW was forced to make a quick pivot. “We were at peak capacity when we made the difficult decision to cancel the sale because of the provincial lockdown. We moved all of our books into a storage locker, hoping that we would be able to hold the sale later in the spring. An entire storage locker translates into approximately 300+ boxes of books.”
When it became clear that there would not be a sale in the spring/summer, a book jobber was found who would take all the stock for a nominal price. “Needless to say, it was not one of our highest grossing years,” says Kathy. The biggest problem was the uncertainty and how long the sale would be delayed and successive waves of COVID quashed numerous hopes to open. When the CFUW Milton and District Book Sale opens each year, it represents the volunteer efforts of a dedicated team who have been sorting, pricing, lifting and categorizing books for months beforehand. And this year, more books were donated probably as a COVID storing by-product Kathy observes.
Occasionally some rare books are donated. “We have found lots of books autographed by authors including Gregory Clark, Robert Bateman, and others. We often receive very old books that book dealers are interested in as well,” Kathy informs.
Plans for the next CFUW Milton and District Book Sale 2023 are to reclaim the March-April weekend for next year since the cool weather seems to encourage optimum attendance. Donation bins will be set up at all 3 Milton libraries and the Milton Mall at the beginning of February 2023 as a cue for book lovers to drop off their donations.