The acim sale used to be a very civilized very laid-back and genteel affair. Traditionally dealers have paid a fee to attend a preview sale usually held a day or two before the main sale that is open to the general public. These dealers at the preview sale used to spend several hours browsing the titles in order to add new books to their inventory.
The Internet, online book selling and the handheld laser scanner has changed this for ever. Many dealers now line up hours before the sale, when the doors open they charge in and are using their cell phones or handheld scanners to scan the barcodes of as many books as they possibly can in the first 30 minutes of the sale. Frequently the book sale is very similar to a Black Friday stampede.
A few of the more undesirable dealers have developed a few tactics to give them the edge and increase their profits from the book sale. These include leaving a box or a bag with their name on many hours or even a day before the sale. They then show up 15 minutes before the doors open cutting into the front of the line to the place they saved with their box or bag. A few minutes later a half a dozen or of their friends, family or co-workers join them. The other people in line realize too late that these boxes or bags have been used to hold places in line for maybe a dozen or more people.
When the doors open a few of the more aggressive dealers will charge in and target what they hope are the more valuable books and media on sale. They grab anything that looks like it might be valuable and throw it into their box or bag, these are then hauled off into the corner and covered with a blanket, maybe with one of their cronies to guard them. They then run back to the tables and scoop up as many more valuable looking books as they possibly can. With all of their hoarded books in the corner these dealers then relax a little and start to scan the barcodes of the books remaining on the tables. When they have satisfied themselves that there are no more books of any real value left on the tables then, they will focus their attention on the books they hoarded earlier. They will usually sit down and scan them into to a buy pile and a reject pile, the reject pile is usually four or five times bigger than the keeper pile. Sometimes these unsavory book dealers will make a half-hearted attempt to put their reject books back when they got them from but usually not. They frequently just abandon them in the corner and leave it to the volunteers at the sale to put them back into the tables in the correct category.
Another common trick that these dealers employ is to make a selection of valuable books and hide them somewhere in the sale room, returning and retrieving them on the last day of the sale for the bag sale where the remnants of the sale are sold off for a couple of dollars a bag.
Another dealer ploy is to volunteer for the library in order to gain access to the valuable books before the sale. This usually doesn’t last very long at all because it has the effect of essentially killing the book sale. When other dealers realize that the books have been cherry picked they are less likely to return for the next sale. Having book dealers volunteering for the library and buying the more valuable donated books for pennies on the dollar before the sale may even jeopardize the not for profit status of the friends of the library organization.
A lot of sales have set aside an area where customers can leave their books to be tallied and reserved while they continue to shop. This is a really good idea because some of the more unscrupulous dealers will steal other dealers selections and check them out themselves.
Some dealers will line up for many hours before a sale. Unfortunately for them most sales allow two or three people to enter through double doors at the same time. If there are 100 people in line for the sale and three people a second enter, then the last people in line will be going through the doors less than a minute after the first people went in. The dealer would have to be extremely good at what they do or have some very specific titles in mind for this one minute or even in many cases 30 seconds to make any difference whatsoever especially as they may have waited outside in line for several hours.