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Out & About: Thousands of Books to Browse at the Five Colleges Book Sale

  • Volunteers sort and price books at the Five Colleges Book Sale donation site in West Lebanon. (Valley News — Liz Sauchelli)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 3/27/2018 9:33:02 AM
Modified: 3/27/2018 9:41:22 AM

Reports of the death of the print book have been greatly exaggerated, at least judging by the perennial popularity of the annual Five Colleges Book Sale. This year, donations to the sale, to be held on April 21 and 22 at the Lebanon High School gym, number approximately 50,000, according to organizers Cindy Heath, of Plainfield, and Sarah Biggs of Norwich. One of New England’s largest used book events, the Five Colleges Book Sale also includes CDs, DVDs, audio books, maps, memorabilia, computer materials and more.

Heath and Biggs discussed some of the highlights of this year’s sale in an email Q&A. The exchange has been edited for length and clarity. For a list of donation sites and sale hours, visit


Question: What are a few noteworthy titles or categories included this year?

Answer: These categories are always popular: cookbooks, farming and homesteading, history, mythology, hardcover fiction, classics, art and science fiction. Readers can check the website a week in advance of the sale for our title highlights.

Q: What are some of the strangest/most offbeat titles you’ve ever encountered?

A: The unusual books we receive are usually older in nature, first editions or related to Dartmouth history. Some are in pristine condition, which we sell in a special gift book category. We also have a “We Have It, You Want It” category for books that defy categorization, like Celtic Body Art. One interesting find a few years ago was a postcard sent by the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage organization in Boston.

Q: Have you noticed trends in people’s reading habits over the years?

A: The above categories seem to be consistently popular. Some of our customers flock to hardcover fiction, because the prices are so reasonable and the books we receive are in such good condition. There was a period of time when electronic devices entered the reading market, and we wondered what might become of the sale, but our customers proved that reading an actual book is still hip. We raised $70,000 to support scholarships to New Hampshire and Vermont students attending one of the five colleges (Mt. Holyoke, Simmons, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley) in 2017. This tells us that people are still reading!

Q: Which authors or books tend to be left over when the sale is finished? What happens to the remainders?

A: It really varies from year to year. Our customers like books in all categories. We request bids for the remainders, and we award a contract to the highest bidder who comes and picks them up for resale online.

Valley News

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