Book Sale Frequently Asked Questions
Please see our Book Sale Policy on Stashing and Big Purchases
If I am not a member, can I attend the preview sale on Friday?
Yes! We would love to have you join at the door.
How much are memberships?
$20 for each person.
Can I get a junior membership?
If you are 17 or under, you can become a junior member for free. Welcome to the Friends!
What kind of books are there?
ALL KINDS OF BOOKS! Children’s Books, Audio Visual Materials, Texana, Cook Books, Fiction and Literature, Mysteries, Art, History, Foreign Language, Reference, Encyclopedias, Special Editions and More Gems
How much do the books cost?
Many are $2 or less with Special Editions, Collector’s Books, and Better Books individually priced.
What is bag day?
Sunday is bag day. We give you the bag — provided by Fiesta — you fill it up and pay $10 for the bag!
Can I get a layout of the sale?
Yes, we will have them ready the week of the sale. Visit this site for the latest information on the selection and layout.
I want to support the sale! Can I become a sponsor?
We need your support in any way. Please call the Friends at 832-393-1387.
Pay parking is available in front of the George R. Brown. You can also park in the parking garage on the south end of the building for covered access.
Bring Some Help
A cart, a wagon, or big shopping bags can be a huge help in toting heavy books.
Where do I find . . . ?
Layout Maps and Where-To-Find-It guides will be available at the Information Booth.
All the Best Books are kept and cashiered separately in the front of the sale hall. These include special editions, encyclopedias, and other gems.
Sorting It Out
We know that picking books is a thoughtful process. You’ll find a large area just for sitting and sorting through all your finds. Here there will also be a place to return unwanted materials so that they will be returned to the tables AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Remember, the more books on the table, the better the sale.
Like a coat check for books, Book Keep lets you store your selections while you keep shopping.
Tally is the fine art of counting how many books a customer is buying while resisting the urge to exclaim “This is a Great book!”. Have your purchase Tallied before you head to Checkout.
Express Tally and Checkout
Skip Tally and find a shorter line with 10 books or less. Find Express Checkout in the Cashier area.
Volunteers will be available throughout the sale to help carry your purchases out of the building.
More Questions Answered! . . .
Q: Where do all the books come from?
A: Many books have been withdrawn from the Library’s collection to make room for new materials. Many are donated from individuals and organizations as well. If you would like to donate books, call the Friends at 832-393-1387.
Q: How do you get all the books to the Convention Center?
A: It takes four semi trucks to transport more than 90,000 books to the George R. Brown the day before the sale.
Q: What happens to books that are not sold at the sale?
A: Other non-profit organizations come in after the sale is over to take the remaining books. Every single book finds a new home. The Best Books and some of the Better Books are returned to the Friends’ warehouse for the next sale.
Q: How long does it take to get ready for the sale?
A: Preparation for the sale is a year-round process with hundreds of volunteers sorting donated books in the Friends’ warehouse.
Q: Do you have more than one sale each year?
A: Yes! Each fall we have a sale just for children’s books. Look for information at www.friendsofhpl.org.
Q: How do you sort the books by subject?
A: At our warehouse, signs along the walls help us make huge piles of books in different subject areas. The books are then packed and carefully labeled for opening at the sale.
Q: How do you know which books belong in Better or Best?
A: After 27 book sales, our volunteers know a few things about spotting a good book. Condition, timeliness, and desirability are all factors when “bettering” a book.
Q: Who does all the moving and other hard work?
A: We turn to Darrell Tillis and Rodney Randle to head up a great crew of really strong workers. Boxes of books are one of the heaviest thing to move!
Q: Who are the security guys we see every year at the sale?
A: For as long as anyone can remember, Officer Martinez has made the time and organized a team of Houston Police Officers to provide security at the sale.
Q: When was the first sale?
A: The first Friends’ Book Sale in 1978 was a small one-day event on the Library plaza downtown. Before moving to the George R. Brown, the sale has been at the Albert Thomas Convention Center, the Sam Houston Coliseum, the Astrohall.
And one more thing . . .
In 1992, Board member Don Gray received the Mayor’s Award as Volunteer of the Year for his work with the book sale over the years.