Jack and Karinna Ball stand before the last of several loads of hardback books they acquired after the American Association of University Women annual book sale Sunday.
Photo by Alfred Diaz.
This story has been modified since its original posting.
WALLA WALLA — Jack and Karinna Ball hate to see books wasted.
So they’ve made a business out of selling the leftovers of one of the biggest community book sales in southeastern Washington — the annual American Association of University Women book sale.
Each year, volunteers for the association put together the three-day sale at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center. About 25,000 to 30,000 books are sold during the event.
On Friday morning, dozens of customers, including several out-of-state collectors, lined up outside the ballroom for a first crack at the books.
“By the end of the first day, that is when we have made half of our sales,” event co-chair Kathy Foster said, estimating gross sales at around $30,000.
Saturday also brings in a good chunk of cash that will go to association’s cause of providing scholarships for college-bound women.
But on the last day, there is a driving goal to get rid of most of the inventory with a $10 bag-of-books special and free tables
Nevertheless, Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. there were still thousands of books left over.
Many will end up discarded to make room for next year’s inventory, but only after volunteers have sorted through hundreds of boxes of books looking for keepers.
To lighten the load of what has to be hauled into storage, the Balls and the association worked out a symbiotic business relationship.
“We said we will take all of them,” Jack Ball said, referring to all the unwanted hardbacks. This year their haul was about 1,500 books.
The books end up in the couple’s Walla Walla warehouse collection.
Later, the Balls will sift through and pull out the marketable hardbacks to add them to some 4,000 books they currently offer online at Amazon, eBay, Etsy and other sites under the business name of Kayjays Books.
What the couple are looking for are mostly hardback books, but some paperbacks make it if they are vintage.
What doesn’t usually make it are the popular books.
“Best sellers don’t sell,” Karinna said.
Nonfiction, especially information on timeless crafts, are books that the couple will ship off to an Amazon warehouse center.
Karinna said she also keeps the pretty ones. As an example, she grabbed a hardback copy of “Daughter of Persia,” a critically acclaimed autobiography published in 1992 about life in a harem.
Ball said she would post it online to see if there is interest. But if it doesn’t sell, she knows that she can find a buyer who will want it because it is beautifully bound in purple canvas overlay with gold lettering.
Ball said she sells stacks of aesthetic books to people such as real estate agents who are often trying to spruce up a home they are selling.
“The more ways you can find to not have to recycle them the better,” she said. “I don’t like to throw away books.”
To learn more about the Ball’s business, click here.