Carlton charity booksale prepares for final chapter.

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One day it’s just an ordinary semi-detached home in Carlton – and on the next, it’s a buzzing bookshop.  

After a two year covid break, Gedling borough’s popular Masked Charity Booksale is being resurrected – but possibly for the final time.

ExLibris, the Masked Booksellers, started in 2006 after Bob Cann and Chris Cook-Cann deplored the quantity of interesting books being thrown out by charity shops, libraries and people who had run out of shelf space.  

The pair donned masks, called themselves ExLibris, and started rescuing as many books as possible – even intercepting some as they were being thrown into a skip at the dump.  Selling them became an effective way of raising funds for local good causes.

At first, books were sold out and about, at stalls.  The very first stall, at Nottingham Green Festival in 2006, raised £106 for Nottingham and Notts Refugee Forum.  Since then, £24,636.85 has been raised and distributed to various charities and other good causes.  

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The first booksale took place on a single day on September 8th, 2007 in front of the Canns’ Gedling home, raising £189.  

The booksale proved popular and became annual events, running over two days in 2008, three days in 2011, and seven days over two weekends in 2016.   

But the organisers have now warned his year’s booksale may be the final one ever and will take place over three long weekends – twelve days in all.

Cann and Cook-Cann said each booksale now requires over ten weeks of preparation, plus the help of other volunteers.  Then it has to be cleared away again afterwards.


There will be over 20,000 books on all conceivable topics, including new, genre, unusual, modern and classic fiction; every non-fiction subject you can think of, from art to zoology; books on leisure interests such as gardening, crafts, and cookery; hardbacks and paperbacks; lots and lots of children’s books; and some really weird books that you wouldn’t believe could, or maybe should, exist.  As books get sold, more are waiting to top up empty spaces.

Chris Cook-Cann said, “There’s something magical about a book, that you just don’t find on an electronic device.  And that magic is even greater when it’s a second-hand book, because as well being directly connected to the author’s mind, you’re also physically holding something that may be a hundred years old, and you’re connected to all the previous owners and readers.”

Prices are always low, and start at 10p.  Even the scarce and collectable books are priced more cheaply than online.  If people are buying books in order to sell them on for profit, they are asked to pay a bit more.  

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Children (and people who feel like children) can play on the ExLibris Express (a train built out of reclaimed wood and permanently stationed at Adlestrop Station), where they can ring the bell, toot the horn, sell tickets, blow bubbles, shovel “coal”, and more.  

Visitors are invited to bring a tin of vegetarian food, which will be passed on to Netherfield Food Bank after the Booksale.  There will be a silent book  auction.  

ExLibris hopes the event will raise a lot of funds for their two chosen good causes.  

Bob Cann said, “We particularly like to support local charities.”  Host Nottingham (Host Nottingham) and We R Here (WeRHere | Support for the whole family) will each be given half of the takings.

Find us on Facebook: 
Follow us on Twitter: @ExLibrisMasked

The sale takes place at their home on 16, Vernon Avenue in Carlton.

Sales take place on the following dates: Fri April 15, Sat April 16, Sun April 17, Mon April 18, Fri April 22, Sat Aptil 23, Sun April 24, Mon April 25, Fri April 29, Sat April 30, Sun May 1 and Mon May 2

The sale will be open between 10am – 6pm on each day of opening.


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