Michigan’s biggest used book sale is back

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News

Pamela Young is a Catholic from Redford who traces her ancestors to Scotland, Germany and Canada.

She shows up at Bookstock every year looking for Yiddish literature — and she finds it.

Of course she does. Whether you’re searching for last month’s bestseller or a set of World Book Encyclopdias from 1986, it’s at Bookstock ...

As am I.

For more years than I can remember, I’ve been an honorary chair of Michigan’s largest used book and media sale, which launches Sunday and has raised more than $1 million for literacy and education projects since 2003.

Across eight days, and across the Laurel Park Place mall on Six Mile, east of I-275, in Livonia, we’ll set out more than 100,000 paperbacks, hardcovers, videos, DVDs, vinyl records and maybe even an 8-track or two.

We’ll also offer discount days, a salute to teachers and a midweek raffle whose prizes include a bowling lesson from hall of famer Aleta Sill, the first woman pro to top $1 million in earnings.

If you’re a traditionalist who likes turning real pages of real books, stop by early and often. We have more merchandise than we can display at once, so the selection changes every day.

If you’re a modern sort who prefers e-readers, come anyway. At 50 cents for entry-level children’s books, $1 for most paperbacks and $3 for most hardbounds, we’re cheaper than a download.

Even when you throw in a footnote — trade paperbacks and newer hardcovers cost a bit more — you get lots more Baldacci, Baldwin and Blume for your buck.

Buys books she can’t read

Young most recently found enough Yiddish lit to fill three cartons, a task made more difficult by the fact that she doesn’t speak or read Yiddish and she can’t tell a prayer book from a history of Portugal.

She acquired the interest from her late husband, a doctor who wasn’t Jewish either, but spoke German and found he could communicate with older Jewish patients at Sinai Hospital.

“It’s a wonderful culture,” says Young, an administrator at Eastern Michigan University. Furthermore, the illustrations in the books are interesting, and the older books are increasingly difficult to track down.

She’s a preservationist by nature, and even by costume; she’ll spend the end of next week in Springfield, Illinois, attending Abraham Lincoln’s funeral as a Civil War reenactor.

So it’s entirely in character for her to buy books to send to the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Then she’ll buy some books for herself that she can actually read, mostly from the History section.

“I don’t buy mysteries,” Young says. “Things are even weirder in real life.”

Discounts are available

One delightful oddity from Bookstock — see — is the presale from 8:15 to 11 a.m. Sunday.

There’s a $20 charge to join the collectors in a mad scramble for uncrowded access to cookbooks, biographies and whatever else floats your Nautilus. Bring a bag, a cart or a backhoe.

After that, the sale is open at no charge during mall hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. otherwise.

Other highlights include:

■Teacher Appreciation Day. From 3-9 p.m. Tuesday, any teacher with a valid ID gets 50 percent off.

■Bookbuster Sports Nights. Buy four items from 3-9 p.m. Wednesday or Thursday and get the least expensive of them free. Or buy 400 items, if you’re so inclined, and get 100 free.

Also, anyone who spends at least $25 on those days will be given a free copy of the full-color, hardbound “Century of Champions,” which lists for $49.95. But wait, there’s more:

They’ll be entered into a raffle for a basketball shoe signed by the Pistons’ Andre Drummond, four Tigers tickets or a package including the lesson from Sill and two instructional books by her partner at, Michelle Mullen.

■Half Price Finale. On the closing May 3, everything is 50 percent off.

Young will still be in Illinois that day, but she’ll hit the sale early in the week.

“I spend hours in there,” she says. “Finally, I tell myself, ‘This is sick.’ But it’s a good sick.”

There’s a great old saying along those same lines in Yiddish. Unfortunately, she can’t read it.