Eager readers gathered Saturday to hunt for bargains during the Kings County Library's annual fall book sale. Bookworms of all ages browsed through thousands of titles covering neatly organized tables outside the library's Hanford branch.

The choices included virtually every genre from classic fiction to drugstore romance. There were also several tables of nonfiction offerings and children's books.

Dozens of shoppers grabbed books by the armful, with many taking advantage of the $1 price tag for most books to fill bags or boxes.

Many searched for books from their personal reading lists, while others were lured by the wide variety and ended up getting more books than they had planned on.

Dean Johnson of Hanford carried a bag of novels in one hand while he sorted through a stack of CDs with the other. He was one of about 50 shoppers who stood in line before 10 a.m., all waiting to get first crack at all the best deals.

"You just want to make sure you don't end up with something you got last year," Johnson said. "Otherwise, you end up donating it all back."

All the books and other items were donated to the library by members of the community.

Wilma Humason, president of the Kings County Friends of the Library, said 3,500 to 4,000 books are typically sold at the semiannual sale.

The sale is a fundraiser for the Friends of the Library, with proceeds going to buy books for the library's summer reading programs.

"It's really meant to keep up the reading level of kids over the summer," Humason said.

The crowd was filled with plenty of repeat customers. Marcia Antley of Hanford has been coming to the book sales for so long, she even has a system: after she fills her canvas bag, she checks a list to make sure she hasn't read any of them before. Then she buys the ones that aren't on the list. This year, that ended up being nearly two dozen titles.

"I missed the last one, so this is really a year's worth," Antley said.

But there's more than one strategy for buying books.

"I go by authors," said Lallie Lawrence of Hanford, who was perched beside a full book bag the size of a small suitcase.

"I know what I like. My two sons - one likes Steven King, and the other likes Jack Higgins."

April Wheaton, a teacher and librarian at Sierra Pacific High School, was there to shop for herself and for the school library. She had a single bag with books neatly stacked to the brim.

"Usually, I bring two bags," Wheaton said. "I'm trying to be selective. I still should have brought two bags."

New head librarian Natalie Rencher said this was her first time overseeing one of the book sales, and she was very pleased with the turnout.

"This is a wonderful way to show appreciation for the public library," said Rencher. "Each person here is giving back to the community."

The reporter can be reached at 583-2458.

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