Friday, October 8, 2021

The Planned Parenthood Book Sale Goes Modern


The Planned Parenthood Book Sale, Oct. 7-11, 2021

 Founded in 1961 and located at the 4-H building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Oct. 7-11, The Planned Parenthood Book Sale is a gathering for collectors and common readers, who squeeze between church supper-style tables to compete with book scouts for obscure Mrs. Oliphants and omnibus editions of Bess Streeter Aldrich.  

We were nostalgic for the sale when it was canceled last year. But, honestly, the appeal of the sale has faded in recent years.  The emphasis has shifted from the sale of old books to newish best-sellers.  As early as 2011, my book group was reminiscing about the Days When the Sale Was Still Great.  

This year I didn't feel like being disappointed, so  I sent my husband with a list of books.  He found none.  "No John Dryden? No Quincunx?" And he says there is no longer a section for early-twentieth-century books.  I am dumbfounded.

He brought me gifts,  a Penguin of Wilkie Collins's Armadale and a Dover edition of Trollope's Miss Mackenzie.  Brilliant books.  I already have them.

So you see my dilemma.  At this point, I'd rather write a check to Planned Parenthood than do pity buys.  Most people seem to prefer newer books, and you can always find something light.


  1. A real loss. The harm the need for money can do. Ellen

  2. The largest used/old book sales on Long Island are at various libraries. All are no more than a tenth of the size you show that one at, although there is one yearly sale (if it comes back) which is a professional book show and very large. I have always noted that the library shows do not have many very old or vintage books and in that crowd there were few rare or valuable ones. Mostly newer books. I guess it is how the books are sought? I do not know hopw the Planned Parenthood one gets their books. Do they, as the libraries in my area, depend on the public to donate books to them for resale? Or, like the book show, do they scout books on their own as well as accepting donations? In the library sales here as opposed to the big professional book show here, I have also felt that less and less old books appear in the sorted donated-books piles. I have to say that I have thought this might simply be that older people tend to have the older books and they have already donated and/or corked off. Don't mean to offend anyone but as a 74 year old, potential corker offer that's how I feel about the local library sales anyway! Nice article, Kat, and sorry you were disappointed!

    1. Yes, I'm sure the founders of the sale have retired or died, which accounts partly for the change. And they do depend on donations; they have a small building for the donated books!. Volunteers are assigned to work on different genres; I'm sure some are bookish, others more social. Unfortunately they now have a policy (my husband read) of getting rid of ALL books they don't sell. PULPING! (GASP) In the old days, some of the books would reappear regularly, which meant you had a second chance at that Booth Tarkington you'd never heard of.

      And this sale is much, much too big! We were there with my dad one year, and he had to sit down while we dashed around finding the P. G. Wodehouses and Zane Greys he wanted. That was when I realized Dad had grown old.

    2. PULPING the books???? OMG, that is like a dog pound with a kill policy!!

  3. i've noted a lack of old books at the library sales the last few years; maybe they're culled out before the sale opens? anyway the last two sales here(lower Columbia river region) have been cancelled due to rain. they were outdoors to evade Covid...