Over the summer, a river of books flowed through the vacant Secretary of State office in Maple Village. Friendly women in blue “AAUW” T-shirts bustled to take bags and boxes of them from walk-in donors, while others sorted, dusted, and boxed the volumes. It was all in preparation for the American Association of University Women’s sixtieth annual sale.
A few donations never make it to the sales tables at Washtenaw Community College; sorters give away or recycle outdated textbooks and encyclopedias. But rare or valuable books are always snapped up quickly, usually by dealers who line up in advance and pay $15 to get a two-hour head start on other customers (after that, admission is free). An old collection of J.D. Salinger short stories (priced at $100) and an early tome of the psychology of movement called The Thinking Body ($50) are among this year’s “special collections.”
Sale co-chair Cheryl Gibbs says fewer romance novels passed through this year, probably because publishers are promoting the genre heavily in e-books–they’ll give away copies for $1, or even free, hoping to hook readers on an author. But while AAUW members worry about the long-term impact of digitization, sales have been consistent in recent years. Last year, the chapter (with about 300 members, it’s the largest in the state) earned $41,000 to fund scholarships for women students.