Fine Arts and Fest

Sell Me Your Books!

Half Price Books Clearance Sale at Ohio Expo Center

Tiffany Wilhelm
This weekend, my beloved book chain Half Price Books is doing something amazing: they’re hosting a clearance book sale at the Ohio Expo Center. Folks, we are talking rows upon rows upon ROWS of beautiful books, thrown into a warehouse with nothing but book-lovers and a bunch of signs reading: “All books $2.00 unless marked less”.

Did you read that?? All books $2.00 UNLESS MARKED LESS??. Obviously I have been looking forward to this sale for months! I was supposed to be out of town and not be able to go until Sunday, but when travel plans fell through I jumped on the opportunity to make it to the first day of the sale.

My fellow book-nerd shopping companion and I arrived a little later into the day due to her early morning shift. I have to wonder what gems we may have missed out on, but after hearing reports of incredibly long lines all morning, I’m glad we were tardy. The place was definitely packed, and I’m not used to having to awkwardly find my way past and around so many people when looking for books. We’re kind of a hermit breed, enjoying our solitude with the feel of loved and worn pages beneath our fingers, our noses full with the perfect smell of home and comfort that only the right book can provide.

Such character traits mean that when we have to dig, we avoid people at all costs, and aren’t very friendly about it. We just want you out of our way so that we can grab that book in front of you before you notice what you’re missing! It felt strangely similar to digging for records at Used Kids or another vinyl mecca – true to that experience, there were the hidden, unopened boxes beneath each table where the truly dedicated could hunt for even more treasures. By the time we were ready to check out (two hours after combing through almost every table more than once), things had died down a little. My arms, back, and neck were all aching from feverishly reading book titles at awkward angles while trying to protect my precious finds in my arms… which eventually became a full basket I was lugging around. Needless to say, I was grateful for the speedy checkout and that I’d remembered to bring cash to ease the process.

At the end of the day, I scored 19 books for only 30 dollars, with finds ranging from a first edition of the first Hardy Boys book (I’m a big Nancy Drew and mystery nerd), to beach reads, to Voltaire and Umberto Eco. I think my most meaningful find was Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease. The man who changed so much in the world’s understanding of African colonial culture and literature just passed away this year - a huge loss to the international community.

Overall, I’d call my shopping day an excellent success. On a philosophical level though, I’m not sure whether to be overjoyed that I found so many great pieces of literature for so low a cost, or frustrated that, as of late, humanity seems to value the written word less and less, to the point that I can purchase the work of a famously talented and influential author for a mere $2.00 plus tax. My heart feels heavy to think that as a society we begin to place less and less value on cultural and intellectual gains, in favor of monetary goods. The description of a culturally significant text is expanding to include youtube, and social memes, and other pieces of culture that begin to define us – and with that I typically take no issue, culture is ever-changing and ever-expanding, so long as we continue to value all things that push us to grow, change, and learn as a society.

My personal diatribe on humanity aside, you’ve made it all the way through this article… why not get out to the book sale?? The sale runs through Sunday and I’ve left the best nugget of insider info for last – all books remaining on Sunday will be 50% off. I just might be going back!