By Ron Hayes
BOYNTON BEACH — Every book is a new book if you haven’t read it yet. Now the Boynton Beach City Library is recycling old books in a new way.
While local libraries might sponsor periodic used-book sales, or find a spare table here or there to unload redundant or damaged copies, Boynton Beach boasts the area’s first public library to open a real, self-contained used-book store.
“We’ve always accepted used books,” says administrative assistant Karen Abramson. “We had a small area near the checkout desk, but that overflowed into the program room.”
In other words, the used-book shelf has grown into a used-book store.
Operated by the all-volunteer Friends of the Boynton Beach City Library and situated just inside the main entrance at 208 S. Seacrest Ave., the glass-walled Friends Bookstore offers hundreds of pre-read books in better-than-average condition for cheaper-than-average prices.
Hardcovers published after 2004 go for $2 each. Earlier titles are $1, and paperbacks 50 cents and up.
Here’s a fine copy of Audition, Barbara Walters’ recent bestseller, for a mere $2. Or slightly older titles by John Irving, John LeCarre, Carl Hiaasen, Garrison Keillor and Philip Roth for a buck.
The store also offers coffee-table art books at slightly higher prices and note cards for only 10 cents each.
“Since opening on April 13, we’ve made over $3,000,” reports volunteer Sol Barnett, “and you have to understand, this is 100 percent profit.”
Actually, that’s not surprising for this group. With about 500 members, 20 of whom volunteer in the bookstore, the Friends have raised more than $100,000 over the past decade, some of which bought new furniture for the library’s recent 63,000-square-foot expansion.
Among the newer volunteers are Ann Kimlicka and Jeannette Lees, both of Briny Breezes.
“I'd been ill and had to give up some of my previous activities,” Lees said recently, “so I prayed to find something else I could do to stay active. I saw a story in the newspaper that the Boynton library needed volunteers, and I’m having so much pleasure. I’m finding things to read I never knew existed.”
Because the small Briny library has no book sale of its own, Lees occasionally carries a few of that library’s discarded titles over to Boynton Beach.
“Right now I have two I’m taking, and I’ve taken more than a dozen or so,” she says. “It adds up.”
A real plus for the true booklover is that, unlike so many volunteer efforts, the store’s titles are actually shelved by subject and alphabetized for happier hunting.
“Well, it’s alphabetized as best we can,” cautions Friends President Judy Barnett. “We’re not professional librarians.”
Still, there’s John Grisham right among the G’s, and Ruth Rendell with the R’s.
And the books are notably lacking in broken spines, yellowing pages and doodled margins.
“The books we accept have to be in good condition,” says Barnett. “No bugs and no cigarette smell.”
An early effort at selling used magazines and romance novels for 10 cents each proved unprofitable, but the store still has a backroom backlog waiting for shelf space on which to be displayed.
And the Friends are always happy to accept tax-deductible donations of used books, Barnett notes.
The library is open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The library is closed Friday and Sunday.
For more information, call (561) 742-6390.