The doors don't open until 9 am, but the crowd has arrived outside Redpath Hall a full hour early. Collars turned up, feet stamping, they chat and huddle against the first snow of the season. They come armed with empty cardboard boxes -- and anticipation. Thousands of book deals await. Prices begin at just 25 cents.
The two-day McGill Book Fair is a McGill -- and Montreal -- tradition. Begun in 1971, the Book Fair is run by The Women Associates of McGill and the McGill Alumnae Association. The cumulative result: a tidy endowment of nearly $1 million which provides $50,000 in scholarships for McGill students each year. While the event takes place over two days in October, collecting the books is a year-long effort.
For would-be book donors, the time is now. All books are accepted from paperbacks to medical dictionaries. There are 10 drop-off depots staffed by stalwart volunteers. The books are then transferred to the basement of Redpath Hall where they are sorted and priced. As the crowds attest, the prices are the best in the city.
In the seventies, one student is legendary for finding a first-edition by Mark Twain. The grand price? Twenty-five cents.