fort_mason_center.jpgMore than half a million books are being sold at the 46th annual “Big Book Sale,” an event that raises money for the San Francisco Public Library.

The five-day sale, which began at 10 a.m. today at the Fort Mason Center’s Festival Pavilion, features books, DVDs, CDs and books on tape.

Excluding rare books – such as an early edition “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien – all books will be sold for $5 until Sunday, the last day, when they will be sold for $1.

“We’ve been able to process many more books this year than we used to be able to,” said Sara Bassett, an organizer of the event.

Bassett is an employee of Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, an organization that aims to raise $1 million per year for the library system. The money helps fund programs at the main library and branches throughout the city.

Bassett said volunteers have been able to process 100,000 more books for this year’s sale, compared to last year, because of the organization’s donation center, which opened in 2008.

The center, located at 438 Treat Ave., boasts a “small army of volunteers” who sort books in a 5,000-square-foot warehouse, she said.

Bassett couldn’t estimate how many book lovers will attend this year’s sale, but said she expects a lot of customers.

“There are always lots of people at the Big Book Sale,” she said.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, and continues with the same schedule through Saturday. It ends Sunday, when it will run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Saul Sugarman, Bay City News

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