book sale

People browse books at a book sale hosted by the University of Georgia Press on Wednesday, Nov. 10 in front of the Main Library. The book sale included new and backlisted books from a surplus of stock. (Photo/Nimra Ahmad)

Amid the sunny weather that held a slight November chill, the University of Georgia Press hosted a book sale in front of the Main Library from Nov. 9-10 in celebration of the month’s Spotlight on the Arts Festival. Students and faculty came by between classes to browse a wide variety of new and backlist books on display, with everything at 75% off.

According to the publicist and social media manager of UGA Press Jason Bennett, the idea of the sale arose out of a campus book sale from previous years entitled the “dirty book sale,” in which imperfect and damaged books would be sold at heavily discounted prices. Bennett said that while they no longer have those types of damaged books since outsourcing their distribution, the UGA Press did have a surplus of certain books they wanted to sell.

“We decided to kind of experiment to see what it would be like this year during the Spotlight, because we get asked a lot, ‘When's the dirty book sale coming back? When's the dirty book sale coming back?’” Bennett said.

Despite the small size and quaintness of the book sale, many different titles across several genres and themes were out for sale. Books about Georgia history, the LGBTQ+ liberation movement and the experiences of Asian Americans in the South were all laid next to each other. Bennett said that while the UGA Press is a scholarly, academic book publisher, it also publishes works of creative nonfiction and poetry.

Book sale attendee Kamari James, a junior majoring in psychology, was deciding between two books: “Queering the South on Screen,” edited by Tison Pugh, and “Eli Hill” by Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin.

“To get some insight of being queer in the South — that’s always interesting,” James said. “There’s always things I feel like I should learn and unlearn about queer individuals.”

Many subjects were covered by many different types of authors — including authors of color and LGBTQ+ authors. Bennett said the diversity of the books published in terms of representing underrepresented communities was a “no brainer.”

“The goal for a university press and especially one that’s a part of a large public institution is that their books should be reflective of the public,” Bennett said. “The things that we publish have to look like and be perceived by the people of Georgia.”

One novel on display, “Southbound” by Anjali Enjeti, is a series of essays about Enjeti’s experiences as “a mixed-race brown girl in the Deep South,” according to the novel summary. Another entitled “The Nadir and The Zenith” by Anna Pochmara examines recurring themes of temperance and excess in early African American literature.

The book sale proved to Bennett that people are still excited about books and, specifically, buying books from the UGA Press. Attendees such as James did not know about the Press prior, and so Bennett said he enjoys doing events such as the book sale to increase their visibility on campus.

Attendee Amanda Fox, the first start coordinator at UGA School of Law, is a book collector and reader who has attended UGA Press book sales several times before. She picked up a book entitled “Mountain Madness” by Clinton Crockett Peters, in which a protagonist from West Texas goes to Japan and initiates a journey of self-discovery. Fox was intrigued because she has family from West Texas and lived in Japan for five years.

“It was just so unbelievably exciting to just casually, here in Athens, pick up a book about someone with a very similar yet very rare type of experience,” Fox said. “This is the way we kind of connect with our memories … finding someone that we can share our experiences with, and books are a great way to do that.”

Nimra Ahmad has worked as a contributor, culture editor and senior features at The Red & Black since first joining in 2020. She's passionate about culture and lifestyle stories and spotlighting marginalized communities and voices.

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