Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Last Book Sale Is History

I had quite a bookish adventure this weekend - and I almost missed it!

I woke up about 5:15 on Saturday morning and grabbed my iPad to check the headline articles on the Houston Chronicle website.  One of the articles was exciting enough to have me wide awake in seconds.
The Last Book Sale  - Day 1
The first day was over, but I still had a shot at getting there in time for some of the last day of the auction.  But I really had to hurry.  I was on the road in 20 minutes to begin my 357-mile road trip, stopping only once for gasoline and a quick look at the auction site to see when the modern first editions in the sale might come up.  It appeared that would happen shortly after the break for lunch, so I still had hope.

The drive took me almost six hours, but when I found the building being used to register bidders (and to collect their cash deposits) I was told that the modern firsts had all gone before the lunch break.  In fact, about 1200 lots were gone and 300 or so remained to be auctioned.  Because the $50 deposit was not refundable - and because I wasn't really all that interested in the remaining lots - I decided not to register.

All was not lost, however, as I enjoyed wandering around little Archer City for much of the afternoon while mingling with book-buyers from all over the country.  There was so little fiction in the auctions (not really surprising since that is the way I remember Larry's old Houston Booked Up store being stocked) that I probably would have had to overpay anyway if I wanted to bring anything home.

So...a few pictures from my afternoon are what I have to show for the 715-mile roundtrip.  And, of course, lots of good memories - and those were free.

The movie theater made famous in The Last Picture Show

Booked Up. No. 4, the auction site

Booked Up No. 3

Archer City's Public Library

The Spur Hotel

The Old Jail, now a public museum

The County Courthouse (across the street from Booked Up 4)

Interesting Marker, on courthouse grounds
(Click on the images for larger views)


  1. I so would have done this. It really sounds like it should be scene in one of his books to me.

    But a 50 dollar non-refundable deposit is ridiculous. Was the auction for charity?

  2. James...I would not be surprised if something like this two-day auction doesn't end up in a book someday. Maybe he'll bring back "Cadillac Jack" someday and make him a book scout.

    No, the fifty bucks went as a credit against purchase but if you ended up empty-handed in this auction, you walked away with emptier pockets anyway. Enough to scare me off since I was only half-interested, at best, in the lots that were still available. I would have felt obligated to spend more than $50 just to use the money I had stupid is that?

  3. Are book auctions held often, like that? I don't think we have many open up here in Canada. I"m surprised that you were able to resist, I think if I drove for 6 hours, I would want to buy something! You did get some lovely photos of historical places, so all was not lost. $50 is a lot of money though, if you don't see something you really want in it. So good for saving your money for what you do really want to own.

    The things we do for books!! I enjoyed this post, Sam.

  4. Thanks, Susan. No, this was the largest book auction I've attended. Its scale, if nothing else, was unusual for around here. Most of the remaining lots were political histories, books on world history, and the like. They just aren't of a type I'd want to spend my book budget on, so passing was easy enough. Still, though, a fun day and I'm glad I decided to make the drive.

  5. Too bad you missed out being able to get anything at the auction, but totally cool that you could even go in the first place!

  6. Stepfanie, I am really happy that I made the Archer City book auction even without coming home with any of the books. I did buy books regularly from Larry's Houston bookstore for a number of years, and even saw him there a couple of times. Seems like a lifetime ago.