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The TC book sale is this weekend. Here's what you need to know

Get ready, book lovers — it’s book sale weekend! Here are 27 things to know about the 27th Times Colonist book sale, on this weekend at the Victoria Curling Club.
Times Colonist book drive and book sale logo 2024

Twenty-seven things to know about the 27th annual Times Colonist Book Sale:

1. It’s May 4 and 5 at the Victoria Curling Club, 1952 Quadra St., from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 to 5 Sunday.

2. The rink is crammed with books, all donated by readers and sorted by volunteers, bless ’em.

3. They’re cheap: $2 for softcovers and children’s books, $4 for hardcovers. You can buy War and Peace for the price of a cappuccino.

4. Payment is by debit, MasterCard, Visa, American Express or cash. No cheques, bitcoin, or stolen bicycles, please. Residents of the Uplands may barter their jewelry.

5. Yes, there will be a round-the-block line of shoppers before doors open Saturday. Embrace it. Pretend it’s Boxing Day 1993 and you’re camped outside A&B Sound. Last year, the first people in the queue arrived before midnight.

6. You really don’t need to line up. There’ll be a sea of books left on Sunday.

7. 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, but watch out for residential-parking-only signs on some side streets. You can also take the No. 6 bus, which goes along Quadra.

8. Books are sorted into dozens of genres, almost all of them on the main floor. Children’s books are downstairs. The Religion, Self-Help and Health sections are upstairs in the curling club lounge.

9. There’s a wheelchair-accessible ramp at the middle door beside the parking lot. Sorry, there’s no elevator to the other floors.

10. Parlez-vous français? Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Eakspay igpay atinlay? There’s a book for you in the languages-other-than-English section.

11. Princess Anne is in town this weekend. If she’s interested, the sale has a Royalty display. Just saying.

12. YES, THERE’S A LARGE-PRINT SECTION (but it is quite small).

13. Wear comfy shoes, as you’ll be on a concrete floor. Actually, you should always wear comfy shoes, fashion be damned.

14. Some people bring their own carrier bags, while others pick up bags and cardboard boxes at the rink.

15. Eat before you go. The curling club cafe won’t be open. No food or drink in the book areas, please.

16. Once the sale is over, representatives of schools and non-profit groups may help themselves to the remaining books, for free, from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Monday, May 6.

17. The Times Colonist launched the sale in 1998 to fund literacy programs on Vancouver Island. The money raised is now matched, in part, by provincial government funds via Decoda Literacy Solutions. Grants totalling $6.7 million have been distributed since the first sale.

18. The planners of that 1998 event had no idea how many books would be donated. “We can store them in my office,” the editor suggested. No, his office wasn’t the size of a curling rink.

19. The 1998 sale brought in $20,800. The 2023 event resulted in $300,000 being shared by 211 recipients (mostly schools) this spring.

20. HMCS Protecteur dropped off some of the books from the first sale when it visited Russia and China, where English-language titles were then hard to find. Some of the books donated to the 1999 sale went to Watson Lake, Yukon, where the library had burned down. In 2006, B.C. Ferries delivered books to Hartley Bay in recognition of the tiny Indigenous community’s response to the sinking of the Queen of the North.

21. In 2000, members of Canada’s men’s under-23 rugby team volunteered at the book drop-off at the Times Colonist building. At one point they stripped off their shirts and held a chin-up contest on the TC loading dock, prompting one of the women in the newsroom to ask: “Can I take one home, just to play with?” No, she was told, you may not.

22. Sen. Pat Carney found a signed copy of her memoir Trade Secrets at the 2005 sale. It had been signed by someone else.

23. We once had an elderly shoplifter whose trench coat was so laden with stolen books that he could barely move. We had to give him a little nudge to help him out the door.

24. One of this year’s donors dropped off a box of treats with his books and said “These are for the volunteers, as long as Jack Knox doesn’t get one.” I can only assume it was Donald Trump.

25. It was once calculated that the typical book-sorter walks nine kilometres during the lead-up to the sale. Please thank them while you’re shopping.

26. Thanks also go to those who support the sale in other ways. A couple of examples: Morning Fresh Eggs donated 300 perfectly sized boxes to haul books in, while Don Mann Excavating lent the orange markers used to marshall traffic during the drop-off. It takes a village to raise a book sale.

27. It’s word nerd heaven. Have fun.

For more information or to donate to the Times Colonist Literacy Society, go to