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Thursday, September 25, 2014

$3 Cookbooks at Fort Mason: The Library's Big Book Sale Returns

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 7:54 AM

  • Friends of the San Francisco Public Library
Cookbook hoarders, play hooky and get to Fort Mason right now  – BYO rolling suitcase and really go nuts. The Big Book Sale #bigbooksale is baaaack, and turns 50 this year. This sale, which costs nothing to enter, sports over 500,000 books from giant art books, sci-fi, and fiction to poetry, pets, and travel. Still, it's impossible to ignore the history and variety in the cookbook section, set up on tables on the middle left hand side — if you find the Delfina sign, you're in the right place. 
Note there is a separate “Publishers Gifts” table on the right wall that carries some cookbooks from Williams-Sonoma and even a few from the veggie patty maker, Morningstar Farms. At Tuesday's preview event, the cookery titles covered everything from a few copies of Larousse Gastronomique (do not pass this one up), to a history of chocolate or perhaps a book with recipes from Wolfgang Puck's Spago-Chinois days in L.A. It was fun to look at a eighties-era Swedish cooking book, but the photos weren't exactly appealing, so I spent on other tomes, like a bible on spicy chili (from the now-folded Chile Pepper magazine, which I once freelanced for). Jams, jellies, pickles and crock pot meals are well represented here, and the prices for all books are el cheapo: three dollars or less.

Hot tip: The crowded yet spirited event has a “something for everyone” vibe. Patience is a must – book lovers tend to be a mellow crowd but here it can feel like a competition to swoop in on the most books. Many folks were in casual attire and about half the crowd used the complimentary shopping carts to pile high their wares. Good luck getting around someone who blocks with the cart while pretending not to see you trying to look at the same books. Long arms do come in handy here.

Cash and carry tip: you may save a little bit of money and score amazing views of Karl the Fog and the Golden Gate bridge by parking outside of Fort Mason and trekking in, but there is a major pitfall to this method. The walk back to your car while you're weighed down with too many gently used cookbooks will remind you quickly that you should've dorked out and brought your own wheelie suitcase or wheelie cart as many veteran shoppers do. 

The Big Book Sale benefits San Francisco's public libraries and is held at the Festival Pavilion of Fort Mason daily through Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Disclosure: My husband Oscar Villalon is on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. I am a longtime Friends member & have attended many events and fundraisers for the Friends in the past decade.

Video of The Big Book Sale.

Big Book Sale
When: Sept 24-28, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason, S.F.
Rundown: 500,000 books, DVDs, CDs, books on tape, vinyl and other forms of media in over 100 categories. All proceeds benefit the San Francisco Public Library’s education programs that promote literacy for children, teens and adults. 

Cost: Everything in the warehouse costs $3 or less: $3 for hard cover books; $2 for paperbacks; $1 for any DVDs, CDs, books on tape, vinyl and other forms of media. On Sunday, it all gets marked down to $1 and you can spend your savings at the Fort Mason Farmers' Market.
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Mary Ladd

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