SALT LAKE CITY — Clay Groesbeck had just picked up a cup of coffee Saturday morning from a favorite spot in Sugar House when he spotted a book sale set up across the parking lot.
"I saw the tables and I thought, 'Perfect,'" the longtime book lover from Holladay said as he sorted through the stacks unearthed from the warehouse of Central Book Exchange for the store's annual parking lot sale that ended Saturday.
"I like hard-cover books. I just like the feel. It's like the newspaper. You get tired of looking at a computer screen or a smart phone," Groesbeck said. "There's something relaxing about a book."
Groesbeck, the owner of Rocky Mountain Water Company, had yet to amass a pile of purchases from the estimated 50,000 books being sold for no more than $5 each, but said he was determined to support the locally owned business.
"It's kind of like a candy store," he said of the 45-year used book seller.
Central Book Exchange owner Pam Pedersen, who bought the business in 2005, said buying used means becoming part of a community of readers that have enjoyed a particular title.
There might be pages turned down, or notes in the margin, she said, tapping the cover of a book picked at random, a hardcover mystery written in 1955, "Dead Right," by Stewart Sterling.
"There will always be room for print material," Pedersen said, noting some of the titles probably aren't available electronically. "I tell people, 'Come find your treasures.'"
Yvonne Palmer, a self-described bibliophile from Magna, was looking at books on sewing but said she likes reading everything. Even though Palmer has a Kindle e-reader, she said there's something special about a book.
"They're comforting," she said. "When you've been reading as long as I have, they're just a companion."
Greg Jones, a freelance writer from West Valley City, showed off several science fiction paperbacks and a set of German language flash cards in a box featuring a picture of a young woman with a bouffant hairdo sitting next to a record player.
"This is old school," Jones said. "I start going crazy when I find these old books, the different covers. It's just cool if you're into books."
Pedersen said the books unpacked from the store's nearby warehouse are a surprise to the staff, too. Although most of the books in storage are inventoried, what's put out for the parking lot sale comes from unmarked boxes.
What didn't sell during the two-day annual sale won't go on the already jammed shelves of the 1100 East bookstore, she said. Instead, those books will be packed up and stored for next year's parking lot sale.
"We are overwhelmed with stock," Pedersen said. "There will be treasures next year."