Next Book Sales will take place:
May 5th and 6th and October 13th and 14th 2018
Location: Maritime Hall, Halifax Forum
Our major fundraisers in support of Symphony Nova Scotia, the NS Youth Orchestra etc; are our Giant Book Sales. We are very proud to tell you that our first book sale was in 1962 so we have been holding them for over 55 years. Currently, we hold two book sales each year, these take place in the Maritime Hall, Halifax Forum, where for two days each spring and fall we have well over fourteen thousand gently-used books for sale, along with some CDs and DVDs. All books have been priced and sorted into over 30 different categories including Classics, Fiction, non-Fiction, Rare & Collectable, Art & Music, Mystery, Science Fiction, History, Poetry, Plays, Children & Youth, etc. – please see the section on donating books for more details.
In the past we have held events such as Fashion Shows, Tea and Sales, Antique Road Shows and raffles.
History of our Book Sales The first part of this history is taken from the 50th anniversary address given by Anne Yanofsky in November 2001
The first book sale was held in the autumn of 1962, and was held in “the mall”. Each member was expected to donate at least 10 books. A gratifying number of books were sold and “netted a considerable amount”. Due to this success, we went full steam ahead. At least 3000 books were sorted at the Admiralty House, then transported free of charge to “the mall” for Friday and Saturday sales. By 1965, newspaper advertisements were paid for every three months asking for the public to make donations of used books. There was an overwhelming response, so an ad was placed after the show to thank the public for contributing books. Each year, these sales netted app. $1500.00. There was a great deal of newspaper publicity, alerting the public to the “giant book sale” coming up. Apparently, the crowds were huge. During those early years two intrepid women drove all over the province, as far as 100 or more miles one way, in order to pick up books. They did this throughout the year, at no cost to the organization. That is a tremendous contribution.
By the mid-1970s, more than $2500.00 was raised at each sale. Costs were extremely low, because Maritime Moving and Warehousing provided the transport and labor free of charge. Also, the tables were loaned. In 1976 there were 191 cartons with app. 9,000 volumes available for sale. By this time, it was customary to give reimbursement for mileage costs to the people who did the collecting of the books.
Every year since then, book sales have been held for two days each autumn. For a couple of years at least, they were held on Thursday and Friday, as the mall assured them larger crowds would be present. For the last several years the sales were held at the Halifax Shopping Center, on Wednesday and Thursday. More than 200 cartons are made available for sale. Sales have been good, netting $3500.00 to $4000.00. We do not, however, get the tremendous crowds that used to attend these events. As I pointed out earlier, the book sale nearly got canceled in 1993, due to a lack of available workers. There has been an impressive record of long time service on the part of the chairs of this committee. We now have a large, dedicated committee which picks up and sorts books throughout most of the year. Indeed, they reportedly have a jolly good time.
It is noteworthy to mention the venues of the book sorting and storage. A navy wife, Helen Nixon, first suggested that we try a book sale. Although the group was skeptical, they agreed to try. The first book sorting and storage depot was at the Admiralty House at Stadacona Base. Since then, other sites have been Willow Park, the Municipal building on Dutch Village Road, the Stairs building at Dal, then the 3rd floor of the Dal building at the corner of LeMarchant and Coburg Roads. Mary Arneaud told me of returning directly after a book sale, climbing up numerous stairs with left-over books, only to discover that a class was in progress in “their” room. They had been evicted without notice. Fran Tyrell got them space in the basement of the Halifax Schools Music Department on Chebucto Road. After several years in the cold and damp, there followed a move to St. Francis School, where the committee thought they “had died and gone to heaven, it was so nice”. After a brief stay there, moves to two different sites at Queen Elizabeth High School followed. Over the years, the committees have proved to be flexible and of good humor.
Book Sale History – 2001 onwards – thanks to Alice Macintosh for gathering the information
The Book Sales continued to take place at the Halifax Shopping Centre, one sale per year usually in the fall. The Shopping Centre rescheduled the fall 2004 sale to the spring of 2005 and we held a second sale that year in November. Since we had lots of donated books, we continued the practice of two sales each year until 2008 when we were notified by the Shopping Centre that they were changing their policy to allow organizations only one event per year. The last sale held at the Shopping Centre was in the fall of 2009. Because of the decision allowing only one sale per year a change in venue was discussed by the executive. It was Shirley Beckman who suggested the Maritime Hall after attending an event in that location. With the approval of the executive Shirley went ahead and negotiated a rental agreement and we held our first sale there in April 2010 – it was a huge success netting well over $10,000. We have continued to hold spring and fall sales in that location ever since.
Because of the increasing size of the sales and the many changes that had happened, the executive felt the need to look at the whole book sale process and to develop specific guidelines, thus an ad-hoc committee was formed under the chairmanship of Alice Macintosh. Changes were also taking place that affected our bottom line, these included the fact that our movers could no longer offer us a free service, we were now paying rent for the location and newspaper advertising had increased significantly. Members of the executive diligently negotiated the best deals possible for the movers and the hall rental and changed advertising practices to rely mostly on the “free” community notices. The “Glo-Sign” advertising the sale by the forum has become an important feature, as have the “book marks” originally designed by Sylvia McNeil who also developed our first web page. Word of mouth had always been an important part of advertising and the dates of the next sales are now included on the book mark as well as information about donating books. Now we also use both our web and face book pages to promote the book sales and to provide information about donating books, CDs and DVDs. Jean Cameron’s mellifluous voice continues to be heard on the radio announcing upcoming book sales. The local book dealers are very important supporters of our book sales and invitations are sent out to all of them about a month before each sale and for a couple of years, members of the ad-hoc committee visited the local second hand book stores telling them about the sales and asking for their input.
To give you an idea of how the sales have grown, we held one sale in 1976 to which we took 191 boxes of books (approximately 6,500 books). In May 2017, we took 446 boxes – note we are still using the same size boxes, plus we have a second sale coming up in October to which we will take at least the same number of boxes (total about 30,000 books). Our profits have also increased with the last two sales netting $18,085 and $16,647 respectively, a very long way from the $795 made at our first sale in 1962. We generally sell about 75% of our books and donate the left-overs to other charities. Changes had to be made in our book depot to cope with these volumes. Obviously a larger number of volunteers were needed – we have a regular list of over twenty volunteers who spend a total of over 1,500 hours each year in the depot sorting and pricing books. Also, we moved to designated times when donations are accepted – previously donors could leave books any time at the Maritime Conservatory but this became too cumbersome for both the Conservatory Staff and for our volunteers. We were also able to move into a larger area in the Conservatory basement, this had the added benefit of being dryer! With the good comes some bad, the increase in donations have meant a higher number of unsuitable books being received however, we diligently remove the covers and recycle the paper. We include information about what books are acceptable along with the donation drop-off times on the book marks and both our web and face book pages.
In spite of the fear that the introduction of “E” books, it is obvious that our book sales are going from strength to strength. We are most grateful to our loyal and dedicated customers who come rain or shine to line up an hour or more before we open our doors. This line-up is like old home week with many of the same faces appearing each sale. At the last sale we finally got an accurate count of the numbers of customers – over 1,000 on Saturday and over 500 on Sunday. It is obvious that with such loyal customers and all the dedicated volunteers our book sales will continue for many more years. Margaret Swift