Day 1 of the Calgary Reads Big Book Sale

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Calgary Reads Big Book Sale returned on Friday. Photographer Ose Irete was on hand to capture the opening day of the event.

A steady stream of bibliophiles poured into the Calgary Curling Club for a chance to snag their next read for cheap. 

The book sale is an annual fundraiser organized by Calgary Reads, a local organization that promotes child literacy. Attendees can buy up to 20 books, with most selling for $4, and children’s books even cheaper at $2 each. 

Calgary Reads CEO Steacy Pinney, pictured below, says the organization missed the revenue from the book sale the past two years. However, she is just happy to be there putting “more books out in the community, and that’s our whole mission.”

Pinney says there are an estimated 150,000 books up for grabs, but “some days it feels like there’s millions.”

“There’s books for everyone, though, and we never run out. The number seems less important than the fact that people have lots of choice, and they will definitely find a fantastic book, or 10, or 20,” she added. 

Nathan Lu, pictured below, was able to find 15 books.

“A lot more than I thought I would be coming out with,” he said. 

According to Lu, bookstores are not always affordable, and libraries can have long waiting lists for certain books. So the opportunity to grab some for cheap is a positive. He also enjoys the adventure of foraging through the large collection. 

“It’s amazing, honestly, digging through the books, and when you find the one you’re looking for, it’s like a little jolt,” said Lu.

Jessica Brown attended the day with her daughters Georgia (middle) and Sloan (left), pictured below, who picked up some picture books and graphic novels. Brown says she is “very passionate” about child literacy and volunteered to help set up the book sale. 

She believes the book sale is important “to help the organization, and help literacy in Calgary flourish.”

The book sale is fuelled by the efforts of a team of volunteers like Jo-Anne Lynd, pictured below. Lynd says she volunteers because she enjoys helping the cause and being around books and people who love them. However, early access to purchase books the night before opening is also a nice volunteer perk. 

Ben and Alison Harman, pictured below, pose with their favourite book purchases of the day. 

Calgary Reads Big Book Sale runs until May 16.

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