By Mike Lauterborn

You couldn't have booked a better days for browsing thousands of books on sale Saturday at the Westport Public Library.

Under sunny, warm skies, crowds flocked to Jesup Green for the first day of the library's 20th annual Summer Book Sale.

The sale continues at the downtown venue and library's McManus room today and Monday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday.

About 80,000 books, spanning 40 categories, were featured at the start of the sale, according to Mimi Greenlee, the sale chairwoman.

The Westport sale, she added, is one of the top three in Connecticut. "It has the reputation for very noteworthy specials," she said. "For example, we had an Andy Warhol book-- a featured special in the McManus Room -- that went for $1,000 first thing this morning."

Greenlee said there were about 600 people in line waiting for the sale to open. And, in addition to the fine weather, the Westport Fine Arts Festival at the nearby Parker Harding Plaza on Saturday and Sunday was helping increase the number of book sale visitors.

Overseeing activities in the McManus Room, Dick Lowenstein, the donations coordinator, crowed about the offerings there. "We have all your art, photo and special books here, priced $3 to $25 mostly, with higher and lower exceptions," he said. "Dealers are an important source of revenue in these environments. Some are book people; some are simple re-salers. The business is changing because of e-books and the economy."

"I love the books and they always have so many great offerings," said book browser Triwi Harjito of Westport. "I usually find four or five books I know I'll enjoy."

Laying on a cement bench beside the Saugatuck River, flipping through some of the books she had purchased, Nina Petrovna Kappel said, "I'm visiting my dad, in Weston, from New Hampshire. We happened upon the sale. I'm an avid reader and obsessed with books. This was a great find and, by chance, I found a dozen books to read."

Michele Stefani of Westport, who came to the sale with her husband John and children Spencer and Jillian, said, "We're stocking up on coffee table books. We're here every year."

Fairfielder Mimi Sengupta said she is a longtime book sale patron and finds books that satisfy both her business and personal needs. "I've been coming to this sale since 2000," she said. "The titles are very diverse, with lots of old books you usually won't find. I'm an attorney, so I will look for law books, but also poetry books."

A lot of planning and coordination go into the event every year. More than 300 volunteers from all over the community work for months to organize and put everything together, then to work the event as it is presented to the public. Kudos are well deserved for making the Summer Book Sale an engrained tradition in Westport.