Used books and Sam Raimi: the wonders of Bookstock

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News

You can find almost anything at Bookstock, including information on filmmaker and demon-spawner Sam Raimi.

I didn’t get that from a book, though. I got it from his older sister, and here’s a preview of coming attractions: He was scary even as a kid.

Andrea Rubin of Farmington Hills is a longtime volunteer at Michigan’s largest used book and media sale, which launched its eight-day run Sunday at Laurel Park Place in Livonia.

She was cashing people out on a wonderfully frenzied opening morning that saw people haul away books in plastic tubs, rolling carts, bulging duffel bags and maybe even armored trucks.

At the overburdened tables parked from one end of the mall to the other, a man who looked like Bob Seger was thumbing through a biography of Elvis. In the mystery section, a fellow who stood at least 6-foot-5 leaned over a gray-haired woman more than a foot shorter to grab a novel by Lee Child, whose recurring hero is named Reacher.

In an event dedicated to the most low-tech of passions, one dealer was using a hand-held scanner to check bar codes on every book in the Newer Hardcover section: lift-zap, lift-zap, lift-zap-keep.

Back at Rubin’s checkout station, volunteers were trying to remember how to take credit cards.

By profession, Rubin is a court reporter, eyewitness to the daily drama of criminal trials and lawsuits.

“In this family,” she said, “I’m boring.”

Brother Sam, 55, the middle of the Hollywood Raimi boys, left Michigan State after three semesters to start working on “Evil Dead,” which turned out to be a wise move. He’s gone from low-budget movies about zombie-influenced demons to directing massive hits like the first three “Spider-Man” movies, and he is revered wherever fake blood is spattered.

Ted, 49, is an actor whose credits include “Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader.” Ivan, 57, is an emergency room doctor who writes screenplays and has moved to Los Angeles at least temporarily to work on Sam’s new project.

He’s cranking out scripts while Sam is in New Zealand, directing episodes of a comedy-slash-horror series for Starz called “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”

That’s one piece of news from Rubin. The other goes back a few decades.

“My whole life,” she said, “I grew up with my brothers scaring me. They’d be hiding under my bed: ‘YAAHH!”

Literary treasures await

There’s nothing frightening about Bookstock, which has raised more than $1 million for literacy and education projects in its first 12 years.

From 10 a.m.-9 p.m. through Saturday and then Sunday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., it will offer more than 100,000 used books, movies, CDs and vinyl records.

I’m both an honorary co-chair and an eager consumer, with one sack of books already lugged home and more to come.

If you’re a teacher, stop by from 3-9 p.m. today: you’ll get 50-percent off with a valid ID. Wednesday and Thursday from 3-9, buy four items and the least expensive is free.

The tables get restocked every day, and treasures await. Late in the 2013 sale, a volunteer noticed that a biography of David Ben-Gurion was actually signed by Israel’s first prime minister.

Most paperbacks cost $1 and hardbounds are typically $3 or $4, but the Ben-Gurion book was quickly spirited away for an appraisal. It sold last year for $750.

Vinyl spins here, too

In the music section, where vinyl records cost $2, Will Morrison of Plymouth found a novel way to test potential purchases: He brought a battery-powered Numark PT-01 turntable.

It’s a good way to check for skips, he said, and it’s “also a wonderful way to discover new music.” Among his 25 or 30 purchases were movie sound tracks, the first American album of a Moroccan singer named Jo Amar, and a big band jazz recording by Dave Barduhn, a junior college professor from Oregon.

Morrison was at a table in the food court. Rubin was at a longer table 20 yards away, adding up $152 worth of purchases for a woman with a white fleece and a red plastic cart.

“I think that’s twice as much as we spent last year,” the woman said.

It wasn’t a complaint.