Friends of the Palo Alto Library Visit our web site 

Saturday October 12
Ephemera 8am - 4pm
Bargain and Children's Rooms 10am - 4pm
Main Room Sale 11am - 4pm
Tent Sale 9am - 4pm

Sunday October 13
All Rooms 11am - 4pm


Fall & Winter Holidays
Home & Crafts
Framed Art
Music CDs


4000 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto
NE corner of the Cubberley Community Center
(650) 213-8755

More information on the sales
Donate your old books

Marty's (Main) Room
In our Main Room, prices are way below what used book stores charge. Hardcover books start at $1.00 and softcover books start at only 50 cents.

Due to the popularity of our sale and the fact that we can only have 160 customers in the room at any time a numbered ticket system (Main Room only) is in place and numbers are given out beginning at 8am on Saturday. Be sure to be in line in order of your number before the 11am opening. If you miss the time when your number is allowed to enter the Main Room you will forfeit your place in line. NOTE: If you plan on arriving to the sale after 11am you do NOT need to get a number.

Please note that due to crowding during the first two hours of the Book Sale, no strollers, rolling carts, etc. can be brought into the Main Room. This is for the safety of shoppers and volunteers alike. By 12:30 or so, the crowd thins out and shoppers are welcome to bring these items into the sale.

Children's Book Sale
The Children's Room is located in the portable formerly occupied by the Jewish Community Center next to the soccer field. It is entirely filled with children's books and toys. You'll find picture books, school age fiction and non-fiction, award winners, non-English titles, CDs and DVDs, and books for parents and teachers, most for 50 cents or $1. Strollers are welcome in the Children's Room at any time.

Bargain Books in H-2
The Bargain Room has moved to Rooms H-2 and H-3 of the Cubberley main campus, between Marty's Room and Middlefield Road. On Saturday, paperbacks are 50 cents, hardcovers are $1, and children's books are 50 cents each. The room also contains many LP records and 78s at $1 each. On Sunday, the room opens at 11 am and all prices are half off. Or, save even more on Sunday by buying grocery bags from us for $5 each and stuffing them with any items in the room. Buy 4 bags and get the 5th one FREE!

Library Closings for Columbus Day Holiday
All libraries will be closed Sunday, October 13 and Monday, October 14 for the Columbus Day holiday. Normal hours will resume on Tuesday, October 15.

You can find out about closings and other Palo Alto Library events on the Library's event calendar.
Friends Bookstore in Downtown Library

If you cannot attend the book sale, please drop by the Friends Bookstore located inside the Downtown Library and open during library hours. It is restocked regularly with a unique selection of books for all ages and interests.

FOPAL Book Sale Notices Now on Twitter
You can now follow us on Twitter @fopalbooks. We'll post Sale notices and will reveal the Sunday 50% off section via our Twitter feed.
Non-Profit Book Giveaway
Non-profit organizations and schools are able to select books from among the thousands of books available in the Bargain Room on the Sunday evening following the sale from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. If you are associated with a non-profit organization or school that would like to receive books from us for free or for information on eligibility, hours, and the types of materials available, please contact Norma Burchard in advance by e-mail at or at (650) 494-1082. Several dozen organizations benefit from the monthly giveaways, including local hospitals, homeless programs, senior centers, schools, and jails, as well as libraries in rural areas and on reservations, and literacy projects in many other countries.

True in 2004 and still true in 2013

"It's truly surprising how many valuable books are donated to FOPAL" -Marty Paddock, 2004.

This is still true in 2013! It's because of this truth that FOPAL continues encouraging checking the value of uncommon books on the internet so that they can be given a price which is fair to our customers and high enough to ensure the Friends are maximizing their sales revenue.

This is why our book sale customers are likely to see some books priced higher than $1 for a hardback and 50 cents for a paperback. A suggested pricing guideline for pricing book using internet research is one third of the on-line asking prices given the criteria of publisher, date, edition, signed copy, condition, and availability. So, if you see a book priced for $10 at a monthly sale, chances are this book would sell on-line for at least $30. That being said some books warrant a fifty percent or more fraction of the on-line prices. These higher value/priced books are still a great deal to our "collecting and reader" customers.

One of FOPAL's challenges is to recognize those books that might be even more out-of-ordinary and of unusually high value say...where the Internet price is over $100.00. Now once these books have been identified, FOPAL then looks for other markets for them where they can be sold at prices well above what we might price and sell them for our monthly sale. FOPAL not only sells at sells books at the monthly sale but also at the Friends Kiosk (Downtown library) at auction and on-line.

If you can't attend the September sale, please drop by the Friends Kiosk located in the Downtown library during library hours. Books are priced $1 for hardbacks and 50 cents for paperbacks. The Friends Kiosk is restocked regularly with books for all interests. Or, shop our on-line book store All proceeds from book sales benefit the Palo Alto Libraries.

Now browsing in that big book sale in the sky
Long-time FOPAL book sale customers and volunteers will be saddened to learn of the recent death of Richard Herndon, who had five warehouses full of books. Richard was a book sale customer for as long as anyone can remember, from the days at Terman and possibly earlier when the sale was occasionally held in the Main Library and the Arts Center. It's unlikely that anyone has acquired more books from our sales than he did.

Dr. Richard Herndon was a real estate investor, owning properties in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and possibly elsewhere. He earned a PhD. in English from Stanford in 1957, but apparently never taught there. As no official announcements have been published in local papers, little biographical information about him is available, presumably as per his wishes.

Richard was true book aficionado, more obsessive and passionate that most, but was always unpretentious and easy to talk to. He will be missed.
This notice is not authorized by the family and the information contained herein is from personal knowledge and public sources. The ultimate fate of Richard's books, probably numbering over one million, is uncertain at this time. -John Burt
We're always eager to hear your suggestions for ways to improve our book sale. Please email us at or mention them to a volunteer at the sale.

October Sale Notes

Donation volume has been steady, and we want to send out a big thank you to all who have donated material for our sales. Many sections still have quite a backlog and we expect to have strong sales all through the winter months.... Speaking of which, you'll find Fall and Winter Holiday books, music, and more in the bookcases just outside the sorting/donation room (opposite Travel). We will restock this area with new material through December. Framed Art has a larger than usual selection of painting, prints, and posters, much of it from a huge estate donation.... Home and Crafts features Pottery and Paper Dolls this month.... After several plentiful months, the Music CDs section again has a lot of new material.... A large donation of Cookbooks came in this month, many made the shelves but don't forget to check the Bargain Room and Tent Sale for great cookbooks priced at $1.00 or less. These are just a few highlights; all of the shelves are full!

Preview Our Shelves

Click here to see some of the shelves at this weekend's sale Check out some of the thousands of books that will be on sale this weekend using our shelf preview pictures.

Sections on the move for October

To accommodate dynamic nature of our generously donated books, changes were made to the location of a few sections. Look for New Age next to Spirituality & Eastern Religion on isle #12. And, you'll now find Philosophy occupying two bays next to the Fall and Winter Holiday books. (Just outside the sorting/donation room, opposite Travel.) Look for an updated floor map created by longtime volunteer Scottie Zimmerman. Thanks Scottie!

Why the 12 Book Limit? A Saturday Morning Scenario

You get to the Book Sale about 11:30 a.m. and drive around to find a place to park. Miraculously, someone's just pulling out. You join the small line of people waiting at the ramp; last night in the pre-sale newsletter, you spotted a book you've been wanting for years and you hope it's still there. The line moves quickly; a few people leave the sale and take their purchases to their cars. They come back and join the line again. Pretty soon you're in and you head to the History section, (or Crafts or Sports, or Cooking...)

Oops! There's someone (who we'll call Pat, just to keep the gender out of it) sitting on the floor with an almost overflowing bag of books nearby and a few more stacked up, leisurely browsing through them. Pat's blocked access to the shelf and may be using a hand-held scanner to look up prices. Some customers leave, disgruntled. Over the aisle blocker's shoulder you spot the book you're dying to have -- but wait! Pat reaches out and snatches your book, stashing it in the bag.

"Please excuse me," you say, "but I was looking for that book." Pat ignores you, and then says "I'm just looking to see which of these I want to buy" and continues to check prices.

Has this ever happened to you? Infuriating, isn't it? And, just perhaps, some people may recognize themselves (even though they aren't called Pat).

We at FOPAL want to make our book sales friendly and rewarding for all who attend; your purchases add up and enable us to contribute many thousands of dollars annually to the Palo Alto Library. For many years, we have asked our customers to be considerate of their fellow shoppers, and to abide by our limit of 12 books per customer, until the Sale Manager announces that the limit is lifted. This usually happens less than an hour after the sale opens. We are most anxious to allow everyone to have equal access to all of the books on our shelves.

Please help us to do so, and free up our volunteers to help you find what you're looking for. (It's no fun to have to remind Pat about our rules.)

  • Please don't sit at all, or stand in front of a single bookcase for a long time.
  • Removing, hoarding or stashing books takes them out of circulation for other shoppers.
  • Our volunteers spend hours arranging books neatly, in their sections. Please replace books where you found them.

We'll notify you (loudly, so all can hear) when it's okay to have more than 12 books in your possession. Helpful volunteers will be very grateful not to have to remind shoppers who aren't willing to do their part.

Yours for easier and even happier FOPAL shopping experiences!

Section Managers representing their sections

Home & Crafts

"What do Pottery and Paper Dolls have in common? They both begin with P and they are both the feature of the month in the Home and Crafts section for October--nothing spooky here." -Nancy Welch


"Look for a special end cap bay of books by celebrity chefs; all are of gift giving quality. Authors/chefs include... Jamie Oliver, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Ina Garten" -Rose Giamalis

Music CDs

"Over 1,600 CDs for sale including over 500 Rock/Rock Compilations, over 200 Classical, over 200 Christmas (get them now), over 100 Jazz, Easy Listening and Movie/Broadway Soundtracks; other sections include 60s Classic Rock, Rhythm and Blues, Celtic, Country/Western, New Age and Comedy." -John Scheibe


Philosophers and Philosophy Meet!

The Philosophy section is now in the main aisle in two adjacent bookcases with each bookcase having a slightly different focus.

Left Bookcase #1- This bookcase focuses on books by or about specific philosophers. Many of the old favorites are here again this month such as Aristotle (12), Dewey (8), Plato (17), Thoreau (10), and for the first time Gramsci (3).

Noteworthy this month: Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, 2 vols, Arlington House. Paul Johnson: Socrates. Bruce Duffy: Wittgenstein. Bertrand Russell: Autobiography, 2 Vols. (1872 - 1944)\240Also, we have seven books relating to Chinese philosophy, located on the bottom shelf.

Right Bookcase- This bookcase focuses on books about philosophy. This includes dictionaries, encyclopedia sets, and single volumes from sets, histories of philosophy or specific groups of philosophers or schools of thought.

Noteworthy this month: Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers: Correspondence. Kwame Anthony Appiah: Cosmopolitanism. Tina Stevens: Bioethic. Treasury of Philosophy, 2 vols., Dagobet Runes. Paul Ricoeur: Memory, History, Forgetting.

Bargain Room- for all the philosophy books that have been well traveled don't forget to visit the Bargain Room. -Nigel Jones

Health and Medicine

"Take a trip around the world with three authors as they travel to remote area investigating new medicines, health secrets and traditional diets. Learn about a form of yoga that was kept secret for 5000 years! Kundalini Yoga is considered one of the most powerful forms of yoga appropriate for all ages and ability levels.

Learn more about Parkinson's disease and don't forget to check out our new "food safety" section to read the latest books about on this controversial subject. -Karen D.


Good news for fans of our Humor section -- we have twice as many books as shelf space! In other words don't forget to go to the Bargain Room (H2) and see a whole other collection of comedy of every kind. Meanwhile in the Main Room some books are in a certain order and these are surrounded by a general chaos that seems to reflect the varieties of weird and wonderful books that have showed up recently.

You will see areas dedicated to specific authors or topics, for instance, Dave Barry (15), James Thurber (12), Wodehouse (3 including an excellent biography), Keillor (10). Topical areas include Jewish humor, flatulence, and as a new category, animals (not only cats and dogs, but squirrels, armadillos and alligators--a grand total of 33 books!).

Top left shelf: Movie related (Marx Brothers, Harold Lloyd, Woody Allen) and a wide variety of books by people on or now off TV (from Tim Allen to Seinfeld to Stewart). On the left a full shelf from the classic era from author Robert Benchley, up through the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Book of the month has to be The World of Edward Gorey, one of the greats who took illustration to an art form; it's on top of the top shelf and will go fast.

Cartoons: You will find high quality hard backs, such as The New Yorker, on the top right shelf but for October 99% of cartoons will be over in the Bargain Room, and 99% of them will be only 50 cents!

Finally, left of the bottom left, one more shelf donated by the DVD folks, the resting place of about a dozen books by Garrison Keillor.

"Don't worry, be happy!" Dr. R. McFerrin. -Nigel Jones


There are some unusual items in the Dance section this month. We have a small (12) collection of Pocket Edition Scottish Country Dance booklets and about the same number of larger Scottish Country Dance booklets published by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Edinburgh. The larger booklets have the music, description of the dance, and a diagram of the dance. Each book in both collections is different.

The book with the most fascinating title this month is I-VI: Method Structure Intention Discipline Notation Indeterminacy by John Cage.

Here are some other new books new this month that have less complicated titles.

  • The Complete Gilbert & Sullivan Librettos from All Fourteen Operettas by Gilbert, William & W. S. Gilbert & Deems Taylor & Arthur Sullivan
  • Complete Course in Professional Piano Tuning, Repair, and Rebuilding (Professional/technical series) by Floyd A.Stevens,
  • Piano A Photographic History of the World's Most Celebrated Instrument by David Crombie
  • The Rolling Stone Record Review Volume II: The Authoritative Guide to Contemporary Records by the editors of Rolling Stone
  • Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah: A New Biography by Tim Footman
  • Guitar Zero: The Science of Becoming Musical at Any Age by Gary Marcus
  • Stardust-The Big Band Bible by Richard Grudens and Madeline Grudens

-Charlotte Epstein

Children's Room

The Children's Room has been bestowed with a huge volume of donations and will have dozens of books offered in different languages (more Asian language books than usual) all reasonably priced by the Children's Room volunteers, as well as shelves filled with teachers guides and teaching material. And, look below for our new Tween writer/contributor recommending books available in the Children's Room for the October sale! Arushi Sahai's first article was a terrific one and this one is super too! Thanks Arushi for your submission to the October sales newsletter!

Tween recommendations by Arushi

The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White is just the sort of book for children who love reading funny animal stories. It's about a trumpeter swan named Louis, who is born mute. With the help of an 11-year-old boy, Sam Beaver, Louis learns how to read and write. Soon, he can communicate with humans, but not with swans. After much searching, Louis's father finds Louis a trumpet, and he can finally talk to his own family and friends. With his new tools, Louis goes out into the world to earn a living. E. B. White writes vividly about being the only swan in a world of humans. Louis's adventures take him everywhere from Canada to Montana to Boston to Philadelphia, and more, where he often struggles to find jobs. The path is bumpy in the beginning for Louis, but he soon finds where he belongs. The Trumpet of the Swan is a heart-warming narrative about a beautiful swan's bond with a human, and the many trials he faces in the world.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is one of my favorite books in the entire world--and I've read a lot of books. The reason I love this book so much is because it's the story of a brave 10-year-old girl named Annemarie Johansen in Copenhagen, Denmark, during World War II in the early 1940s. Her friend Ellen Rosen is Jewish, and that's very dangerous during the Nazi occupation of Europe because Adolf Hitler, the Chancellor of Germany, wants to take away all the Jewish people of Europe. This is a great introduction to World War II and the Holocaust because it is from the point of view of a young Danish girl who has to face so much fear, uncertainty, and even lies told to her by her family, while they all are trying to save Ellen's life. There are very few mentions of anything saddening in this story, so it's alright for younger readers who are not yet ready to understand the Holocaust. The protagonist, Annemarie, is glad that she is just a normal citizen who doesn't have to be called upon for courage and bravery, like the Danish soldiers. But in Number the Stars, all that changes one dark and sorrowful night when a vital part of a dangerous plan is missing, and Annemarie is the only one who can fix it.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson is the story of a boy named Jesse, who loves to run. After losing a footrace at school to the new, strange, and unexpected girl, Leslie, who doesn't even own a TV, the two quickly become friends. Soon, Jesse takes Leslie into the woods. Leslie shows Jesse how to imagine. That's just one of her many talents, and Jesse and Leslie cross the small creek almost every day. Together, the 5th graders build an imaginary kingdom they call Terabithia. Leslie teaches Jesse to let go of his anger and frustration with his family--just one small example of how Jesse's whole life is transformed when he meets Leslie. His younger sister, May Belle, is the only one of Jesse's siblings who doesn't annoy him too much, but in time, Leslie's friendship shows him how to be a sort of friend to her as well. Bridge to Terabithia also has a sad side, though. I must warn you before you read this book that you must be prepared for some unhappiness, but the overall lesson learned from this tale of friendship and letting go is rewarding. -Arushi Sahai

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