By Thursday before noon, approximately 150 people had lined up in anticipation for the opening of the American Association of University Women’s Annual Used Book Sale at Bernardsville Middle School.
But for those who missed opening day for the 62nd annual AAUW of Somerset Hill's huge sale — with tens of thousands of volumes — the sale continues from noon to 8 p.m. today, Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s been very steady — it’s been a good crowd,” Virginia Little, a volunteer from Morris Plains, said. Little says she has been helping out at the book sale for about six to seven years.
Although the sale opened at noon, volunteers were on-site by 9 a.m. to pass out priority numbers to eagerly waiting customers, so that they did not need to hold their spot in line for hours before the sale opened.
By around 3 p.m., the school cafeteria was filled with people browsing at almost every book-covered table. Many visitors are the“regulars” who make sure that they never miss the well-known event.
“I come here every year,” said Basking Ridge native and recent Ridge graduate Peter Vogel. “It’s the best place to come and get some affordably priced books.”
Vogel, a 2011 Ridge High School graduate, has been coming to the book sale for the past seven years, particularly in search of school-mandated summer reading material. Now headed to UNC Chapel Hill in the fall, he said he came this year to look for search out some leisure reading.
“I’m just coming now to shop around and find what looks interesting,” Vogel said.
The book sale has a reputation that precedes the opening of the sale itself each year, with people crossing state lines to peruse the year’s selections.
Kim Bille, venturing all the way from Massachusetts, schedules visits to her mother-in-law, who lives in Basking Ridge, just in time for the book sale’s opening.
As an elementary school librarian, Bille, as a well-seasoned shopper with a list of wanted books in hand, said she knows an exceptional book sale when she sees one.
“For the first time last year, I was so impressed at the work and effort, because I know what it takes to put on a book sale,” Bille said. “It so impressed me that I decided I needed to come again.”
Bille, who has a preference for science fiction, attributed the book sale’s success to its efficient organization.
“It speaks for itself... the organization of it,” Bille said. “It’s very easy to shop for the books.”
The to kindly greeting people with shopping bags for their books. All of the hard work preparing for the sale has made volunteers experts in navigating the multifarious sections.
“It’s fun helping find people find the books they want,” Basking Ridge resident and volunteer Teri Passarello said. Passarello has been helping out at the book sale since 2001.
While some people carried bags and boxes filled with new reading material, others only had a single book in hand, fully absorbed in skimming through another potential purchase.
With books sorted into 34 different categories, there are choices for every one of all ages and interests.
“The kids love to look through the kids stuff,” Trish Maloney of Basking Ridge said. “They get a kick out of it.”
Maloney has been attending the book sale with her 7 and 9-year-old children to the book sale for the past four years. At this year’s book sale, she was on the look for historical fiction books.
Despite the increasing popularity of e-books and electronic publishing devices such as Kindles and Nooks, the crowd remains consistent with previous years.
“There’s still the people who like to turn that page, even though we know that electronic publishing is very popular,” Passarello said.
Proceeds from the book sale will benefit the AAUW’s scholarship funds, legal advocacy funds, educational foundation, and libraries in the area.
The 62nd Annual AAUW Used Book Sale continues Friday, Aug. 12 from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Saturday, there will be a 50 percent discount on all books.