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Times Colonist Book Sale tips: Bring patience and comfy shoes

Here’s what you need to know to have a better book-buying experience at the Times Colonist Book Sale on May 14 and 15, 2022.
MAP-TC-book-sale-2022
The layout of the 2022 Times Colonist Book Sale. Open the image in a new tab to see a bigger version. TIMES COLONIST

It’s finally back.

After a three-year absence, the Times Colonist Book Sale returns this weekend.

Here’s what you need to know to have a better book-buying experience.

• First, the nuts and bolts: The sale is at the Victoria Curling Club, 1952 Quadra St., this Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

• It’s cheap: $1 for children’s books and pocketbooks, $2 for softcovers, $3 for hardcovers. The prices haven’t changed since 2002, when Jean Chrétien was prime minister, the BlackBerry had yet to hit the market and Netflix was still a mail-order movie-rental business.

• Please wear a mask. Also, please respect physical distancing. No reaching over other shoppers to get at that copy of I’m OK, You’re OK. You’re looking for books, not playing Twister.

• Payment may be made by debit, cash or credit card. Or livestock, if you’re from Metchosin.

• Please be patient. This is a popular event, which can mean lineups reminiscent of a Soviet butcher shop in the 1980s, or the Victoria passport office today. In past years, the book sale queue stretched around the block by the time the doors opened Saturday morning. Sunday is historically quieter.

• If you have trouble with the patience part, please consider the sale’s Self Help section. It’s in a room downstairs when you first come in the front door. Adding that room this year allowed volunteers to leave a bit more space between tables on the main level.

• There’s an excellent* children’s section in the lounge area upstairs. No strollers, please. (*To clarify: it’s the section that is excellent, not your children, though we’re sure they’re fine, too.)

• For those with a hunger for more than books, the café in the curling club will be open until 4 p.m. both days.

• Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be on a concrete floor. Some people like to bring their own carrier bags, while others prefer to pick up a cardboard box (or two, or three…) at the curling club.

• Pay parking is available in the lot that serves the curling club and Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

There is also free parking along Quadra Street, but be aware that parking on some of the nearby side streets is for residents only. You can also take the No. 6 bus, which goes along Quadra.

• How many books are there? At a guess, half a million, all of them sorted by volunteers after being donated by readers two weeks ago. You’ll be able to identify the volunteers by their green T-shirts and the groaning noises they make after a fortnight of hard labour. Most have no connection to the newspaper, and are motivated by nothing more than a desire to help the community. The sale couldn’t happen without them.

• On Monday, May 16, teachers and representatives of non-profits can take away as many leftover books as they like, for free, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Surplus books are bought in bulk by a Vancouver company that resells them online or donates them to literacy groups and charities.

• Last Saturday was World Naked Gardening Day. This Saturday is not World Naked Shopping for Gardening Books Day. Just saying. There is a gardening section, though.

• YES, THERE’S A LARGE-PRINT CATEGORY.

• Money raised through the book sale is matched, in part, by provincial government funds via Decoda Literacy Solutions. The more you spend, the more they send. All the money (a total of $6 million since the first Times Colonist Book Sale in 1998) goes to literacy on Vancouver Island. This spring, $270,000 in grants went to a record 214 recipients, mostly schools.

• For those who love literacy but loathe crowds (or books) there’s the option of donating to the Times Colonist Literacy Society at Canadahelps.org.

jknox@timescolonist.com