Friends of the Palo Alto Library Visit our web site 

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

Sunday May 11
All Rooms 11am - 4pm


Mother's Day
Science Fiction
Bargain Room VHS Tapes
Children's Room Freebies


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

Maps and Directions
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 is located in 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 green FOPAL reusable bags from us for $2/ea (or bring your own grocery-size reusable bag) and stuffing them with any items in the room for $5/bag. Fill four bags at $5/bag and fill a fifth bag FREE! (We no longer receive sufficient used paper grocery bags along with donations for this purpose.)

Library Closings for Memorial Day Holiday
All libraries will be closed on Sunday, May 25 and Monday, May 26 for the Memorial Day holiday. Normal hours will resume on Tuesday, May 27.

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 2014

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

This is still true in 2014! 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 Main Room book sale customers are likely to see some books priced higher than the Bargain Room prices of $1 for a hardback and 50 cents for a paperback. A suggested pricing guideline for pricing book using internet research is one-third to one-half 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 higher prices, but 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 $40.00. 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 monthly sale, please drop by the Friends Kiosk located in the Downtown library during library hours. Books are priced $2 for hardbacks and $1 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.

A Reminder about the 12-Book Limit
Most people who come to our sales early on Saturday are enthusiastic, cooperative, and they appreciate the reasons for our 12-book limit, which is in force only until the Sale Manager announces that the limit is lifted. This usually happens around noon; earlier when all who are in line have been admitted, and when the Fire Department's occupancy limit is no longer a problem.

Shoppers may not bring in more than one bag per customer, or any oversize bags. Standard grocery-sized bags are okay - and of course we encourage the use of our highly visible flashy green FOPAL bags, for sale outside the entry ramp. Please remember that boxes and large backpacks are a safety hazard, and we cannot allow them when the book room is crowded.

We will remove shoppers from the sale if the they refuse to limit the number of books in their possession to 12. A reminder: as always, customers are welcome to choose 12 books, pay for them, exit Marty's room and re-enter as many times as they wish, honoring the waiting line if it is still in existence.

Our goal is to make our book sales as pleasant and rewarding as possible, for as many customers as possible. We are grateful for the support of most of our shoppers for shopping according to our rules. We ask for the commitment of our "business clients" in considering the rights of all of our customers and observing our rules. -FOPAL Book Sale Committee


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.

What's Special for May?

Our moms are often the first people to teach us how to read and our first "librarians". That's why FOPAL loves moms and we love celebrating all of the wonderful moms in our lives on Mother's Day. Every year, millions of us purchase a bouquet of flowers to honor the mothers in our lives. This year, why not celebrate her with a bouquet of books? Althea Andersen, FOPAL's Ephemera Empress has created a display of books for moms or about moms located in our "specials area", the first couple of bookcases located to your right as you enter the Main Room.

Also, in the "specials area" look for a huge selection of Science Fiction books. Science Fiction section manager Rich McAllister jumped at the chance to feature a special collection of Science Fiction Book Club editions for the May sale. Sci-fi fans are going to want to check this out.

The Bargain Room and Children's Room are busting with their terrific donations. Look for an impressive selection of VHS tapes donated from a personal collection filling the Bargain Room shelves. These 100+ VHS tapes are in pristine condition and the titles are varied.

The Children's Room received dozens of non-book items this month. Come check out their selection of games, puzzles, toys etc... Children's Room volunteers said this month "it feels like we're also holding a kids garage sale!" And, if that's not enough to entice you there are freebies: back packs, book bags, bug catchers and more....

Vinyl/LPs: From the San Jose Mercury News, April 2014: "As CD sales have eroded in recent years in favor of digital downloads and streaming services, vinyl has emerged as a niche market to contend with. Sales of vinyl records jumped 32 percent in the U.S. last year, as new stores opened and more artists opted to make their recording available on the format." As luck would have it FOPAL's pick-up gang brought in a generous donation comprising a lifetime collection of record albums. The FOPAL volunteers cleaned the covers, checked for scratches and did some on-line research to determine where to best sell this extensive collection. You'll find the majority of these LPs in our Bargain Room and a handpicked selection of better and unusual vinyl in the Main Room in the new LP section next to the "specials area". And an FYI for all you groovy media enthusiasts... ALL ABOUT VINYL - Exhibit: "Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records", Saturday through July 27 at Oakland Museum of California.

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 photos.

Section Managers' Mentions for May Sale

Each section's selection of books for each sale is determined by the type of donations we've received. Here at FOPAL we lovingly call all our generous donations "inventory." Here's what Section Managers have to say about what's new in their areas!

Curious Books for May

Curious Books always has many strange, unique and uncategorizable books. Here are some samples for May. Books I Have Read--An historical artifact from 1890, someone's unusual book journal; and three books by Lemony Snicket, written for adults, more or less. And for the cat lover with a sense of humor, How to Tell if your Cat is Planning to Kill You, Advanced French for Exceptional Cats, and How to Understand Women Through Their Cats. -Pat Blumenthal

May 50 Cent Humor

The April 50 Cent Sale was such a success we have decided to run it for one more month- all books in Humor for 50 cents each! The top two shelves of each bookcase are full of new arrivals, including Tina Fey, Ellen de Generes, Jack Benny, Bill Maher, Calvin Trilling and Monty Python. You will also find many more Humor books over in the Bargain Room. -Nigel Jones

Book Sets

Look for sets of books on aisle 6: Story of the Great War (WWI) Diplomatic Edition in 8 volumes by Colliers in 1916 and Works of Theodore Roosevelt in 7 volumes by Colliers in 1889. The Complete Writings of Oliver Wendell Holmes in 13 volumes by Houghton Mifflin in 1892. American Statesman in 40 volumes by Houghton Mifflin in 1917. Works of Robert Louis Stevenson in 8 volumes by Standard Book Company in 1930. American Nation in 3 volumes by Williams Publishing in 1889. -Charlotte Epstein

History Book Sets

Check out the History "Sets" section this month. We have a large number of two volume sets which is very unusual. Maybe someone didn't like to carry one heavy book and so only purchased sets. Who knows? It's a bit of a puzzle but an interesting change for the section with some intriguing topics, emphasis is on U.S. History and Western Civilization with a smaller section of sets on Asia. -Suzanne Little

Philosophy for May 2014

The two philosophy bookcases are arranged so that the left one is primarily about specific philosophers, their works, and commentaries on their works, whereas the right is more to do with philosophical topics, historical overviews and schools of thought.

All recent arrivals are in the top 3 shelves of the right bookcase. On the top shelf you will find books by George Steiner, Bryan Magee, Hannah Arendt, and first appearances by Denise Shekerjian and Lecompte du Nouy. We received a large donation of books on Ethics. These are on the 2nd and 3rd shelves and include books by Peter Singer, A. I. Melden, Raziel Abelson, and Paul Roubiczek. Also, in Existentialism, we have a first appearance by Eugene Kaelin. -Nigel Jones

Special in Science Fiction

We have a special collection of Science Fiction Book Club editions from across the six decades the Club has been in existence. This includes great classic authors like Clifford Simak, John Christopher, James Blish, Cyril Kornbluth, Edgar Pangborn, and Wilson Tucker. Many haven't been reprinted in some time, so this is a chance to pick up well-cared for books you won't see other places. Here as well are many SFBC-only omnibus editions -- complete multiple-book series in one or two fat volumes. You can read the whole series for one low FOPAL price! -Rich McAllister

Sci-fi in Ephemera

In Ephemera: issues of Analog, 1961-1975, some missing, some duplicates, some wrapped bundles of four for $1, most single issues for 25c.

In the Bargain Room: issues of Analog, Asimov's, F&SF, 2000-2010, some missing, some duplicates.

More to come next month! -Frank McConnell

Music for May

Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer; Silence by John Cage; Four books by Ned Rorem including Knowing When to Stop; Writings and Drawings by Bob Dylan; Apollo's Angels - A History of Ballet; and Deadbase IV. There is half a shelf of books about pianos and pianists and the opera shelf has 7 biographies of Verdi. There are also significant hardback biographies of Benjamin Britten, Aaron Copland, Sergei Prokofiev, Richard Strauss, and Igor Stravinsky. Also, look through the sheet music section for playable music for almost any instrument as well as opera scores. -Charlotte Epstein

Spring Cards

This month in cards we have MOTHERS DAY, FATHERS DAY, and GRADUATION cards as well as the regular selection of individual cards. PLUS, there are two tubs of STATIONERY at very low prices. -Marda Buchholz

Home & Craft

Summer is upon us--time to dust off the wood working tools and organize the house and garage. Great books on both subjects on the shelves this month at Home & Craft -Nancy Welch

May Gardening

The Essays/Memoirs shelf in the Gardening section has come up in the world, literally. Alternatively labeled, Armchair Gardening, the shelf is now at eye level! You'll never have to bend down again to peruse the many volumes about the delights and challenges of gardening; in fact, reading any of these books will never even get dirt under your fingernails! Among the current selections are such intriguing titles as: The $64 Tomato, Orchid Fever, and Earthly Pleasures. My personal favorite this month is The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. -Ann Justice

Children's Room- Arushi's recommendations for May

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is a mind-twisting novel children will mull over for days. It is full of new adventures wherever the characters venture to seek the truth. In The Westing Game, Sam Westing's will brings together sixteen heirs to solve the mystery of his death. Little do these people know that there is much more than what meets the eye? There is only one answer...who will be the first to find it and win the Westing fortune?

Crispin, the Cross of Lead by Avi is a highly suspenseful book set in the Middle Ages in Europe. Crispin is a boy who, after the untimely death of his mother, runs away. Crispin doesn't exactly know what he's running from; he just feels unsafe wherever he goes. Fearing for his life, Crispin finds himself in a big city where danger lurks around every corner. Suspenseful and adventurous, Crispin, the Cross of Lead has advanced vocabulary and a complicated plot. It's perfect for a reader who wants a challenge!

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes is a spectacular historical fiction story about a fourteen-year-old boy named Johnny. The book is set in the years just before the American Revolution starts. It has a captivating plot and is an entertaining way to learn about hardships of colonial life. Johnny is a talented apprentice to a silversmith, but after a tragic accident, he must find a new trade. Johnny meets new people wherever he goes, and he slowly begins to be caught up in the sparking American Revolution. Johnny risks everything for the Revolution, but can he deal with the consequences of his actions?

-Arushi Sahai

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