Out of 45 categories of volumes, Karen Anderson headed straight for the children's books and quickly stocked up on the works of Richard Scarry -- the ones with lots of pictures.
"I have two children, 3 and 1, and they're both big readers," said Anderson, her arms piled high with a dozen selections, including a paperback mystery for herself. "This will keep them busy all winter."
Anderson, an energy service manager for a utilities trade association, rubbed shoulders with hundreds of other bibliophiles yesterday, all intent on snapping up bargains at the annual Goodwill Industries Book Sale here.
"We have books on everything," said Mary Cavett Sims, president of the Goodwill Guild, one of the organization of volunteers who helped select, sort and price the more than 100,000 volumes that are on sale through Nov. 14.
Paperbacks start at 45 cents, and hardbacks can cost from 75 cents to $75, though most are under $8. All the books, 2,000 boxes worth, were donated to Goodwill during the year.
Selections and tastes vary from year to year, according to Goodwill volunteers. Latin books were popular last year while law books, cookbooks and how-to books did a brisk business yesterday. Readers in a hurry could buy the Cliffs Notes synopsis of Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" for a quarter. Encyclopedia sets were a bit more.
One donor's bookshelf clutter, however, may be another's rare -- and valuable -- find. The really choice selections are auctioned off. A first edition of "Tarzan of the Apes" sold for $1,000 last year.
"I don't think the people who gave it to us knew what they had -- it was so beat-up looking," said Sims.
The Goodwill sale, now in its 18th year, evolved from an antique show and has become an annual fund-raising event to support vocational rehabilitation programs for handicapped adults in the region.
One of the biggest book sales of its kind in the nation, raising more than $100,000 in six days last year, it attracts book dealers, students, members of the diplomatic community, members of Congress and other book lovers.
"Last year, Sen. Mark Hatfield came four times," said Sims, referring to the Republican senator from Oregon.
Some seemingly eclectic choices could be explained.
"My wife was born and raised in Scotland," said Frank Milligan, a Treasury Department investigator from Woodbridge who was toting a volume of "Scottish Ghost Stories" for his children and several books on how to write for himself.
One man paid $2.50 for Will Durant's "Our Oriental Heritage" and $2 for "Elizabeth Taylor: The Last Star." He said the latter book was for his son.
Like potato chips, though, most true book lovers weren't buying just one or two. Especially at Goodwill prices.
One example: Two books of children's poems, a book of love poems by Erica Jong, a book on film criticism, actor Robert Vaughn's book on show business blacklisting, a book of comic drawings and a collection of favorite stories about horses came to a grand total of $6.43, including tax.
To accommodate wide-eyed and eager buyers, Goodwill takes checks ($5 minimum) and credit cards ($10 minimum) and has even set up an express line for customer convenience -- 10 books or less.
The sale, which includes some records and art works and a few other gifts timed for the Christmas season, goes on between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 1255 23rd St. NW. First come, first served.