Friends of JMRL is back at Albemarle Square Shopping Center for another book sale

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – If you’re looking for a new read, you’re in luck. The Friends of Jefferson Madison Regional Library book sale is back, but it still looks different than years past.

This book sale has been going on for over fifty years. The past two sales have taken place at Albemarle Square shopping center, instead of the usual Gordon Avenue library. But, it still draws the same crowds.

“The quality of the books, the condition of the books have, the quantity of books, that’s why people come from far and wide,” Friends of JMRL Manager Peter Manno said. “People plan their vacations around it.”

Guillot says he went to UVA for his undergraduate and graduate degrees, and has been going to the sale since his grad years. He is a writer, also identifies as an appreciator of books now.

“I remember one time, being in England and breaking my semester in Cambridge to come back here for the book sale,” Guillot said. “I’ve been going to the sales since 1974.”

John is also dealer: someone who buys the books priced low at the sale, then profits off of them later.

“They’re regular people that we see every sale,” Manno said. “So, then they’re more aggressive than a normal person is just looking for that book that they want to read. And these people are trying to gobble up something that they’ll be able to sell.”

Not everyone that comes to the sale is looking for collectibles, though. Back in July, it was actually planned to avoid that. The sale usually takes pace in the spring and fall, but Friends of JMRL held a spontaneous sale in the summer to make up for the missed funds during the earlier parts of the pandemic.

“That was a trial run for us, just seeing if we could pull it off,” Manno said. “We designed it to be not so attractive to dealers so it wouldn’t be a block full with people going crazy.”

They thought avoiding that craziness would be safer, in terms of COVID. That also meant changing the location to Albemarle Square shopping center. The staff decided to keep that spot this time around, too.

“We jettisoned the Gordon Avenue plan, and we came back here where there’s a lots of space,” Manno said. “We can easily have 120 people in here, people not being crowded. But we felt we really had to have at least a mask mandate.”

This sale is bigger than the last, and a step closer to the traditional look.

“We thought we could do more, and this is probably 30% more tables, a lot more shelving,” Manno said. “This is about three quarters of what we would normally be able to do at Gordon Avenue.”

The sale continues through the October 10, from 10-7 every day. The staff also restocks every day, so there are new books out, and tables full, every second. On October 9 and 10, all of the books will be half off. The money goes toward all of the Jefferson Madison Regional libraries, to help fund their activities and events.

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