the Little Red Reviewer

Books at Estate Sales = FTW!

Posted on: September 19, 2010

Why should you consider shopping for books at Estates Sales?

1. Books are expensive!
2. You’re already a fan of the used book market.
3. Older and out of print titles are near impossible to find.
4. You enjoy a treasure hunt from time to time.

And check out what I got today, all for less than three bucks!

Celi.a, Do you see what’s in that pile? It must be destiny, it must!
Learn more about the do’s and don’t of scoring great book finds at Estate Sales after the jump! And of course, the sniff test!

First of all, what is an Estate Sale?  It’s when a house needs to be emptied before it can go on the market.  Perhaps the owners have passed away, or are downsizing, or just really need to get that house cleaned out before they sell it. There are companies all over the place that organize Estate Sales, they professionally run the sale, which includes organizing and pricing everything, assissting customers, and running the cash register.  You can usually find advertisements for Estate Sales in the newspaper classifies, or even by just watching signs at busy street intersections.  You’ll find any and all kinds of household items at estate sales – furniture, kitchengoods, nicknacks, jewelry, clothing, seasonal decorations and textiles.

Oh, and most importantly, Estate Sales are great places to get books! Cheap!  Or, if it’s rare or a signed edition, maybe expensive, but worth it. 

A few Do’s, and some other stuff :

– DO bring a checkbook and cash, but leave the plastic at home. Most Estate Sales accept checks, and everyone takes cash.

– DO Bring a tote bag. you may be provided a grocery bag, or not.

– DO expect books to be rather cheap. their goal is to get rid of this stuff, and in some cases the Estate sale management company has already paid the family a lump sum based on the expected value of larger peices of furniture and artwork. Books are usually incidentals.

– DO expect books of all conditions – brand new and never opened to practically falling apart. If it’s in iffy condition and it’s a title you really want, buy it, but don’t be dismayed if it falls apart after one reading. Case in point, that Van Vogt book above. The glue in the binding is all dried out, but I really really wanted it.

– DON’T expect much in the way of brand new titles.  If you’re looking for Twilight or the latest Stephen King, you’re more likely to find them at a community yard sale than an Estate Sale.

– If there was ever a time to smell a book, and I mean really get in there and  smell that book, this is that time. Always, and I mean always, perform the sniff test. There’s a good chance that book spent some time in a musty moldy basement. And by some time, I mean 40 years.  You may be able to get the smell out, but you might not.   If the book smells a little funky, that’s not a reason to not buy it, but it’s something you need to consider.   Some great resources to rehab a musty or moldy book can be found here, and here.

– Be prepared to get to the Estate Sale Early. Or not.  Early means the crowds are larger (and possibly more aggressive) parking may be difficult, but the best items are still available.  Getting to the sale shortly before they close means less crowds, usually lower prices, but a far smaller selection of books.

So, next time you’re looking for something interesting and unusual to do on a Friday or Saturday morning, check the local classified, and have an adventure at an Estate Sale!


4 Responses to "Books at Estate Sales = FTW!"

The library booksales always have a lot of estate books. It’s an adventure and I try to catch every sale 🙂


CONGRATS! I hope you enjoy it. *worries*


it’s a skinny book, but I admit to being a little intimidated. but i will get to it, really, i will!


[…] What is an Estate Sale, and what to do if your book stinks. […]


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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