Attending a Friday-night preview of the Friends of the Library book sale in Los Altos feels like an antiquarian rugby scrum.
The business of books summons an eccentric cast of characters. Part dealer, part zealot, part hoarder, part dilettante, the keenest shoppers snake in a line around the building, sometimes hours before doors open at 6:30 p.m. When the first wave charges into two huge spaces at Hillview Community Center stuffed with donated books, pawing across box-stacked folding tables, some wield specially calibrated bar code scanners. Within only a few minutes, advance runners begin to trail out to twilight parking lots, arms full.