Picturesque fields of spring wildflowers haven’t been the only thing blooming here in South Central Texas lately. My observation is based on achieving a new personal best record by attending four local library book sales in three days in Schulenburg, La Grange, Weimar and Columbus. This memorable experience made me think about the pastime of reading.

Nesbitt Memorial Library shoppers in Columbus searched a rich inventory of used books and CDs.

A Good Time to be a Reader

There was no shortage of used, gently-handled books on topics of all kinds. Prices couldn’t be beaten either. Inventory had mushroomed over the past three years because COVID had prevented libraries from hosting their annual sales.

In fact, the Nesbitt Library in Columbus was so overwhelmed by donations that a message posted on the conference room door pleaded: “PLEASE don’t drop any more books. We are full!”

Each location reported that sales were steady and few people left empty-handed. Even though buyers took home hundreds of titles, some of the books boxes stashed in boxes under the tables never made it to the prime browsing range on top. That’s how bountiful the supply was! 

As usual, proceeds were earmarked for the respective library’s programs.

Sandra, who works at the Fayette Public Library in La Grange, offered carry-out service to those of us who bought a stack.

E-readers Haven’t Replaced Printed Books

Some news coverage might lead you to believe that we’ve become a society that relies totally on e-readers. That’s not the case. People of all ages still enjoy printed books. Some read fiction or non-fiction for pleasure. Others want to learn or augment their knowledge and skillsets, especially those associated with their hobbies. Self-help and motivational titles are also popular draws.

According to statistics from that profile the habits of U.S. adult readers, e-books dropped in popularity to 25% in 2019. That means 75% of us still read the old-fashioned way. Of course, some readers may read digital books as well as pulp and paper copies. Statistics

With hardcover prices ranging from $1 in Schulenburg to $2 per book in La Grange, book sale browsers had the incentive to become book sale buyers.  

Reading: Still a Favorite Pursuit

So how what percentage of our population reads books in any format? According to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan American think-tank based in Washington, D.C., a survey conducted Jan. 25-Feb. 8, 2021, found that 76% of U.S. adults had read a book they held in their hands, opened digital content on an e-reader, or listened to an audiobook. PEW RESEARCH STATS

Schulenburg Public Library volunteers offered every customer – young, old, or in between – warm smiles and pleasant greetings.

Staging a book sale is a massive undertaking that’s only successful because hardworking volunteers and library staff members believe in the power of the printed word. They not only undertook the heavy lifting of toting and arranging the book sale event but also aided and abetted readers like me who had a seemingly insatiable appetite to own and read more books. Thank you!   

With every purchase, Friends of the Nesbitt Memorial Library tucked in a printed invitation for book buyers to join their group. Its mission is to expand learning opportunities.

Reading Is Bliss

I’m not bashing digital books. In fact, I have several e-books on my tablet. However, the pleasure of holding a book in my hands takes me to a happy place. It always has.

I was a toddler who dragged around dog-eared copies of my favorite Little Golden Books instead of a security blanket. I’ve never lost that small child’s sense of wonder and enchantment discovered long ago between the covers of an open storybook. I find it still is waiting for me.

Readers, how about you?

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Elaine Thomas
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