San Francisco Book Sale 2009

san francisco book sale

Last week I had a chance to stop by the 45th Annual San Francisco Book Sale which was held at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion. The place was filled with books.  According to the event’s website it is the biggest book sale on the west coast. The five-day event features 300,000+ books in over 50 categories.

I arrived to the sale early and as expected the line was extremely long. Some of the people had arrived five or six hours early just to get a good place in line. yikes! These people are bonkers.  All this before the book sale even starts. Once you get inside, that’s where the real madness begins.  Old ladies run around  throwing elbows, so they can snag vintage microwave cookbooks. Book dealers play laser tag with the ISBN numbers on the back of the books, all in the hopes of finding that rare gem.

With 300,000 books to choose from, you would think I would be rolling out of the sale with a small submarine filled with books. That wasn’t the case. I found a few issues of Graphis, a couple of rare kids’ books and and a smidgen of good ephemera. All in all it wasn’t a bad day, but not as much as I was hoping for.

Anyone else have a chance to stop by the sale?

san francisco book sale

san francisco book sale

san francisco book sale


san francisco book sale

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I wasn’t able to make it to this one, but while I was in Chicago this August I went over to the Oak Park book sale held in the high school (through the halls of which once walked Hemingway and Ray Kroc among other notables).

It was just as crazy, if a bit smaller. The line reached two blocks back, and once inside the unairconditioned building I was sweating beneath, between, and on top of (this is sounding dirty) hundreds of manic book fiends. The fruits were, however, worth the labor. I walked out with several first editions, some lovely children’s books, an assortment of mags, a copy of Hokusai’s Sketchbooks (ching), a very very old copy of Don Quixote (complete with beautiful illustrations), and a gilt-edged edition of Gargantua.

Looks like you were given plastic crates. The one thing lacking there. Cardboard boxes were stacked and passed around. This quickly became impractical.

R. Craw |

Found design |

Dude! I missed it! :-(
I’ve been drooling over the thought of snagging some good microwave cookbooks and they had some there!!??
In a way I’m glad to hear that it doesn’t sound like I missed too much. Bummer that you couldn’t have come away with a better haul though.

Dale |

Found design |

I was there on preview day (Wed), and the best stuff was in the “Kids” section, got some lovely 50′s & 60′s illustrated kid titles. And picked up two beautiful examples of 1920′s German book design. Also some good early 70′s craft stuff.

However I could not afford the stuff in the “Collector Boutique”. There was quite a treasure trove over there. Did you get a chance to check that stuff out?

R Craw – Wow, great score with the Hokusai Sketchbooks. I know those are hard to get.

At the SF sale we had shopping carts. The red on the cart looks like a crate.

Dale – You missed out big time. They had an insane collection of microwave cookbooks. This wasn’t your ordinary Betty makes a chicken pot pie microwave cookbook sale. One lady pulled a rare children’s popup microwave cookbook. When you opened the book, it revealed a full size working “M-Oven” with a dish of cherry cobbler cooking inside. Thats word.

Koina – I was there on Wed. as well. I bet we were digging in the kids books at the same time. I checked out the “collector boutique”, but I didn’t find much I was into. I did see a cool Sister Corita booklet though.

Nice finds, looks like a great event, can’t wait to see more of your purchases.

Man! You found some good stuff there Dave!

I found a lot of neat stuff, but I only bought 2 kids books and a few records (Hall and Oates anyone?).

Nice you found a map from Noord-Holland!

i wasn’t as fortunate as you. found nothing from the art section. it was my first time hearing of it n’ i didn’t know about it till it already started so i went mid-sale. i’m sure the best finds are already gone. i’m looking forward to next year tho :)

Ahh, I see that you snagged a copy of the Provensen’s Iliad & the Odyssey – you lucky dog, you! I’ll have to swing down to SF next year for this. Looks like a lot of fun!

You got there before us, I see. We didn’t pick up too much. :(

Nicole |

Found design |

Nicole- Yea, I wondered what happened to you and Sean. I didn’t find much either.

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