You know the best place to find books when you live in a big city? A Book Festival! In April, I was very jealous of my old stomping ground in Southern California celebrating another year of the L.A. Times Festival of Books. It’s the largest book festival in the United States, and I usually am standing in lines for author signings and attending panels on fiction, food, publishing, podcasts, you name it.
With that said, pretty much all the books there are full price. The cost of a booth for book stores or indie presses is high, so there doesn’t tend to be much of a discount on anything. The novelty is the atmosphere, and supporting the community through, well, paying for the books full price since the event itself is free.
I was not going to let jealousy get the best of me this year! In a quick online search, I discovered the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, CA that took place May 4th – May 5th. While it didn’t quite have the same massive amounts of speakers and panels, it did have something a little different.
A focus on actual, physical books and filling your tote bag to the brim.
Here’s my haul of what books I got and which booths!
Half Price Books Booth (Free)
Half Price Books was the first booth, with a great kick-off. They gave out free children’s books, with totes to carry. You could choose up to five. While my friend more responsibility chose books for her child, I selfishly chose YA titles for the teenager I sometimes feel like.
- This is What I Did: by Ann Dee Ellis
- The True Meaning of Cleavage by Mariah Fredericks
- Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot
Moe’s Books Booth ($9)
This was the fancy booth with the full MSRP sticker on their front table. Nearby, a cart featured used books for a price written in pencil on the inside cover. Since I had already gotten a few books for free, I didn’t feel guilty paying a little extra for a book of translated poems.
- Rumi The Book of Love – Translations & Commentary by Coleman Barks
The Prison Literature Project Book ($2/book)
This was one of my favorite stopping points (and it shows with how many books I bought!). The booth was pretty simple: just a table full of books. Each book sold helped support their mission of supporting literacy and reading in prisons. This was a win-win. Plus, they had probably the highest caliber of author quality. I had to put books away in order to support the straps of my tote bag.
- Diary by Chuck Palahniuk
- The North China Lover by Marguerite Duras
- The Last Time I Wore a Dress by Daphne Scholinkski
- Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Alibris.com Booth (Free)
This was a random free tote / free book slush pile. The books didn’t really have any consistency in terms of theme, but I found a Michael Crichton that I thought someone else might like. Sure enough, it was picked off of my apartment shelf a few weeks later.
- Airframe by Michael Crichton
TOTAL COST: $19
TOTAL BOOKS: 10
AVG. COST PER BOOK: $1.90