Rotarians hoping to entice readers to buy 40,000 used books

Annual fundraiser runs Jan 17-19 in support of club projects

Camilla McGill, a member of the Rotary Club of Sarnia Bluewaterland, is chair of a group organizing an upcoming used book sale, one of the club's key fundraising initiative.

Some 40,000 used books will be available at the Rotary Club of Bluewaterland’s annual used book sale scheduled for January 17,18 and 19.

And for the Rotarians it is a big deal.

For three days, the Bayside Centre will be open to book enthusiasts looking for literary treasures.

“I’m always a bundle of nerves and I worry until I see enough books collected,” says Camilla McGill, who along with an organizing committee and some 64 volunteers have been collecting, sorting and categorizing books for most of the past year.

“It is a lot of work but a great deal of fun and it brings the Club together,” says McGill who chairs and organizes the event.

Last January the sale generated a net profit of $25,000 on revenue of $28,000, producing the most revenue and profit in the sale’s 16-year history. “It is all about having enough books which tends to attract enough buyers,” says McGill who describes the used book sale as “a destination.”

While the book committee is using social media to get the message out, a survey completed last year indicates shows the community is comprised of “people who read” and the target audience responds well to print advertising says McGill.

She views the audience for the book sale to be very different from another club event—Art in the Park—which is held each September at Mike Weir Park and is the club’s other major fundraiser, raising more revenue but slightly less profit,

McGill says generally Art in the Park features artisans from across Ontario and attracts a younger family-oriented crowd to a one-day event.

The used book sale is more localized, is spread over three days and is appreciated by an older audience that pores over thousands of books.

This year for the first-time prices will increase slightly. Paperbacks will remain $1 but the price of a hardcover will increase to $3—”still a bargain,” notes McGill.

While she is optimistic and expects this year’s sale will draw a large crowd McGill has a couple of concerns. Members of the aren’t getting any younger and rely on volunteers to assist in carrying the load.

McGill says an upgrading of Bayside Centre may or may not include space for the Rotary Club which operates book collection centers at Bayside and at Lambton Mall. Seasons Retirement Communities is orchestrating the project which McGill fears could force the club to find another location.

“Bayside has been good to us and hopefully there will be a place for the book sale in future plans.”

Profit from this year’s sale will be used to pay down the Club’s $60,000 obligation to the City for playground equipment at Centennial Park.

—story and photo courtesy of Chris Cooke, a member of Rotary Club of Sarnia Bluewaterland.

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