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Bookworms rejoice … Bookstock is back at Laurel Park with books galore and low prices

Bookstock Room

Bookworms who are strapped for cash can rejoice. Bookstock is back again for an 11th year.  Yes, once again Livonia’s Laurel Park Mall is sprawled from one end to another with used books for sale.

For longer than the eye can see at some points, the suburban mall is filled with tables, most of which are several books deep.  Even more books are packed in boxes underneath.  Along with the books, there are even a few tables with CDs, cassette tapes, vinyl records, magazines, video cassettes and DVDs. Still, as the name suggests, the focus is on books, and they have almost any genre one could think of to give almost any reader something to at least browse through. Most books run $1.00 – $3.00 and the sale runs through Sunday, April 28.

imagesCAWCN5UD“Anyone who loves books enjoys working in the sale, because it is so exciting to see people finding books they really want,” said one volunteer who has been with Bookstock since before the beginning. “We’ve had people cry when they found the books people read to them when they were younger.” I think it reflects the sense of community participation and love of reading this event represents.

All the books sold are donated.  The donating process starts in the fall and continues with multiple pickups over the year, including one book drive at the mall itself in March.  Leftover books are donated to worthy causes.  In the past they have gone to help restore books lost in New Orleans libraries after Katrina, to prisons and some have even found their way to Africa.  The leftover children’s books go to kid programs in the summer.

Selling and recycling of books is not the only way Bookstock helps those in the community with literacy.  All of the money earned in the sale is rerouted back into literacy programs in Wayne and Oakland Counties.  However, where as large charitable organizations give money to literacy projects as a whole, Bookstock helps on a more individualized level with mini-grants.

In two years the program has given three scholarships to those attending the Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science.  Three students received $2,000 and one enough to pay for a full semester at the school.

To aid literacy in a more universal sense Bookstock decided to encourage teachers themselves.  Tuesday is Teacher’s Night.  Any teacher who shows up at Bookstock with a valid teaching ID will get his or her books for half price.

There is also an award for teachers.  Essays were written by Detroit fourth grade students about how their reading teacher helped them. Three finalists and one winner where chosen from the essays received, and all are invited to an event on the Tuesday of Bookstock. Aside from the winning school getting a sizable financial donation, the teacher gets $500, and the student gets $100 and a trophy.

Teacher’s Night is not the only event within the eight-day sale.  Bookbusters, the brainchild of honorary chair Detroit Free Press columnist Neal Rubin, takes place on Wednesday from 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm.  During Bookbusters if you buy three books you get the fourth one free (the cheapest is the free one, of course).

Along with the possibility of free books there is the chance to win a Detroit Redwings jersey signed by the whole team.  The chance to win the jersey comes by a raffle.  Tickets for the raffle are given out for every $25 spent at Bookstock.

The origin of Bookstock, and all of the work it does, actually comes from the ending of another used book sale called Brandeis, which shut down 13 years ago.  It was run by the Detroit Chapter of the Brandeis National Women’s Committee. Several women decided it was a shame to lose the book sale and organized Bookstock.

The three co-chairs, Janet Berma, Karen Simmons, and Susie Schomberger, start planning this almost a year in advance. In fact, they’ll meet next week to look at possible dates for next year. Fundraising for the Bookstock starts up again with an event in August.

Despite the eight to nine months of work they seem to genuinely be pleased with the work they are doing and the good their revenue and mini-grants bring to people.  All of this, and the common community sharing goal, bring a wide variety of groups together for a single purpose.

Despite all of the work these three women do, they acknowledge they could not do it alone.  Their two honorary chairs, Rubin and fellow Free Press columnist Rochelle Reilly, also pull a large share of the load, even to the point where one of the officials suggested the “honorary” part was in name only.

Volunteers also play a huge role. Between 700 and 800 people volunteer to help customers and sell, stock, collect and sort books. Some of the volunteers even ask about helping after they finish buying their books.  Organizations such as Oakland Literacy, the National Council of Jewish Women, Akiva, Frankel Jewish Day School, Jewish Community Care, and the Jewish Community Council all also add support.

It’s a great show. Bibliophiles and treasure hunters alike can find few better ways to indulge themselves.

To find out more go check out Bookstock.

Bookstock Room

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