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Dave Obee: Come on down: 100,000 books vying for your perusal

The fundraising Times Colonist Book Sale at the Victoria Curling Club, 1952 Quadra St., continues Sunday, May 7, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Times Colonist Book Sale on Saturday at the Victoria Curling Club, 1952 Quadra St. The fundraising sale continues today, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Breaking news from the Times Colonist Book Sale, happening now at the Victoria Curling Club on Quadra Street: All those ­people who came through on ­Saturday missed thousands — more than 100,000, in fact — books that deserve a prime spot on your bookshelves.

Those books are on the tables, waiting for you, when the sale resumes at 9 a.m. today.

With your help, we will sell 20,000 more books than we did last year — something that we need to do.

But more on that later.

Saturday’s long queue was unprecedented, with a turnout of about 4,700 for the sale.

So we will look for ways to speed the checkout process at next year’s sale. But even after the rush ended, there were still plenty of great books in every section.

We’ve been doing this for a quarter of a century, and it has been the same story every time. Just before we turn off the lights at the end of a sale, we marvel at the gems that are still available. Grab them today while you can.

I’m not talking about the books by TC staff members, although I could — when the doors open today, there will be books by Jack Knox, Adrian Raeside, and yours truly. (Really, how could anyone part with those?)

The Canadiana section has enough quality books to fill a small library.

You want science fiction? Romance? Mystery? Plenty to choose from. And that is true throughout the sale.

OK, I admit there was a bit of a run on the royal section, which we revived this year in honour of the coronation on Saturday. That was to be expected.

Bargains, bargains. The top price for a book is $3, and paperbacks are $2. Not sure you could match those prices anywhere.

And that leads to a reminder: This book sale has a greater purpose than allowing Island residents to replenish the shelves they cleared when they brought their castoff books to us two weeks ago.

The sale is a fundraiser, with proceeds going to school libraries and literacy projects. As we deliver cheques to school libraries each year, we hear a common refrain: Our money allows the schools to double their book-buying budget.

Over the years we have donated more than $6 million to these worthy causes.

Most of the money has come from these book sales, and the provincial government has given us additional money most years.

This year, there is a sense of urgency. We were told on Friday that the government contribution to our work is being cut. That means we need to work even harder to help our community – because the need is as strong as ever.

To be blunt: It was too late to raise the prices to make up for the loss. Unless we can sell about 20,000 more books than we did last year, school libraries will get less money.

The Times Colonist and its staff members support the sale, but we do not run it. That is done by the Times Colonist Literacy Society, with the help of more than 100 volunteers. The proceeds go to literacy work, not the newspaper.

Having a society allows us to issue tax receipts for donations, and yes, we welcome all gifts. You will find more information on charitable donations on the Times Colonist website.

In the meantime, there is plenty to choose from at the curling club and the Sunday lineups are shorter. We would love to see you — and I am sure that you will love the great finds that are waiting for you.

With luck, there will be 20,000 books you just can’t live without.

Dave Obee is editor and publisher of the Times Colonist.

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