Sunday, August 27, 2006

One million books in the middle of nowhere

Last week we discovered treasure in the sticks of Wisconsin. Even though there wasn't a princess in this castle, as Third Daughter hoped there would be, there were thousands upon thousands of books. And thousands upon thousands of books in a huge building next door. And in at least two more smaller buildings that I call "dollar stores" because they put their $1 books there.

This compound is called Castle Arkdale and is open by chance or appointment. The booksellers are a retired couple although it might be more appropriate to say they are book amassers rather than sellers. Sure, they sell books, but there is no sign at the bottom of the driveway and they aren't exactly in a high traffic area. They do not have a website. Clearly they are not in this for the money.

One doesn't see books like this at library sales or thrift shops; I knew I couldn't begin to absorb it all. I let myself simply be content in the presence of so many books without feeling pressured to unearth every gem. Sometimes it's nice to simply look at old books and admire their artwork without thinking about the value or eBay keywords. Not all the books here are priced for resale so I spent as much time as possible in the back of one of the buildings where most of the bargains are located and parked myself in the non-fiction section. I found two copies of William Nickerson's How I Turned $1000 Into 3 million in Real Estate In My Spare Time. I was excited because it was the first time I've found this title and, the last I heard, this book was worth three figures. It's only worth $30-40 now, however, but it's a quick seller and I've already sold them. I found an Elizabeth Goudge hardcover in one of the dollar stores, which has already sold, along with a Tex Mulane football novel, which should sell for around $40. I looked closely at the home section because I like to look for old books about houses, especially from the Arts & Crafts era, because they sell well on eBay, plus the mentality back then wasn't to supersize a house but to make a small space seem bigger. I found one such gem, published by the Museum of Modern Art in 1946.

The children worked as hard as we did looking for books. They searched and they searched (First Daughter is on a quest to find every Babysitter's Club book so she can sell them as a lot on eBay). Leonora, the proprietor, commended them on their efforts and she spent several minutes ringing up their books (using pencil, paper and mental math). Obviously I need to return here again, and again, without children and with a smartphone so I can look up book values on the internet as I browse the store. I envision that this will make for a nice Saturday escape during the winter months when there are no library or garage sales.

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Anonymous Dan said...

Sorry, but I commented on the wrong post earlier.

I always enjoy your posts.

I was wondering if you could share the address and contact information for this "Book Castle."


10:30 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

Castle Arkdale is located in Marksdale WI in Green Lake County. Their address is W1778 Cty Rd K and their phone number is 920-398-3375.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The address you provided Dan is correct, however Castle Arkdale is located near Markesan, Wisconsin. This may help potential visitors pinpoint the location on a map.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As of a phone inquiry on 6/16/09: In 2009, they are only open on Saturdays during June, July, August, from 9A-4P. ("Is it possible to make an appointment for another day?" "NO!") I didn't ask about whether or not they're open on July 4th, which is on a Saturday thig year. Be smart and phone first, or you'll be out of luck (as I was after an 85-mile one-way drive on a May Saturday this year...)

11:10 AM  

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