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Imagine a shopping mall center courtyard in which row upon row of tables stand. Book lovers carrying bags and pulling boxes on luggage carts browse of all kinds of books lined up in neat rows on some two dozen tables. Under the tables sit yet more boxes full of titles waiting to jump to tabletop. In the center of the courtyard, bargain hunters snap up children's books, CDs, VHS videos, and cassette tapes.

Welcome to the Friends of the Bay County Libraries book sale at the Hampton Towne Centre (N. Pine Rd. and W. Center Rd.). This sale runs from August 6 to 9:  Thursday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The always modest prices are at their highest the first day of the sale and fall gradually, until the last day, "bag day," when a reader can carry off a bag of books for only a dollar.

Hardcover and softcover, fiction and nonfiction, adult books and children's books, even magazines—the sale offers them all. "Bestsellers are on those tables; adventures, sci-fi, and westerns are over there; history and how-to are that way,"  a Friend of the Library might say, as if directing traffic at a busy intersection. Busy it is. One year the Friends sold 50,000 books during a single sale.

While some of books have been withdrawn from local public libraries, thousands have been donated. This year's selection includes titles once owned by legendary Saginaw bookseller Frank Walsh.

With Center Avenue in Bay City still under construction, shoppers must use alternate routes.