Friday, 1 October 2010

"They're having a garage sale"

my father informed me. "They're" in this instance being the members of the church he attends. Right. This really means that they are having a church fete but they will not call it that.
There are a number of reasons for this. One is that "church fete" will put a lot of people off. They do not go to church and anything that sounds "churchy" is something they will avoid. "Garage sale", even a "garage sale" held in a church hall sounds fairly harmless and there might be a bargain so they will go and look - or that is the thinking.
Another reason for holding it inside the hall is the weather. The weather might be all right but why take the chance when you can be undercover?
It also keeps the thing to a manageable size and the congregation is getting smaller and older.
I am not sure what my mother would think of this. The members of the Women's Guild she led spent twelve months preparing for the last big church fete. There were twice the number of Guild members back then and they were younger - and even then some of them were in their eighties. They sewed and knitted and embroidered and crocheted and painted and did other mysterious things. The week beforehand they baked.
This last big fete was about fifteen years ago. I know. I went up and ran the second hand book stall for them. After all, according to them, I know about books. I do not attend church but they know me and it was assumed that I would help. My father came home and informed me I had been "dobbed" in, not by him but by two members of the Church Council. The "request" was the sort of request that is not a request.
There were rather a lot of books at that time. Most were paperbacks being recycled for a second or third time. They were the sort of thing people take on holiday because it does not matter if they leave it behind. There were a few gems. I passed five books of some value on to a second hand book seller of my acquaintance. I knew he would give me a fair price for a worthy cause - and he did. If I had put them out they would have been snapped up at a much lesser price by one of the book dealers who descended in search of bargains.
The morality of selling books like this always bothers me. Second hand book dealers of my acquaintance tend to buy books for absolutely minimal sums and then sell them for maximum prices. The author gets nothing. If their books are in a library they might get something from Public Lending Rights - as they should. However it is legal to sell books this way and at least the money on the occasion of a church fete will go to a worthy cause. I will be running the book stall again.
That will not however be the end of the business of the garage-sale-church-fete however. My father is busy in the shed...jigsaws of pictures of the church, sets of dominoes and building blocks and other things are gradually appearing. It will use up some of the timber a member of the church gave him. This can only be a good thing.
And I am eyeing off other things. There are things we have not used for years. They are good things we have not used since the last church fete. We really do need to be rid of them. They could go on the bric-a-brac stall or on the household utensils stall or on the clothing racks. They could be - well, recycled. Someone might use them.
If not then there might be another garage sale in another fifteen years.


Anonymous said...

You will have reread everything in your own library in fifteen years!

catdownunder said...

I hope I have read a lot of new books Chris!

Adelaide Dupont said...

Thank you for raising the point about second-hand books and ethics.

That they buy the books at minimum price and sell them at maximum price.

Jayne said...

I know what you mean about second-hand books depriving authors of income. The way I do it is I try to only buy second-hand books by authors who are sadly no more, so I am not depriving a person as such of an income, only an estate (which conjures up images of rich mansions and butlers, anyway).