They line up hours before the sale begins, sometimes braving heat advisories or afternoon showers under umbrellas.

They're not hoping for great deals on TVs and tablets at a Black Friday sale. They're after books and vinyl at the biannual Friends of the Library Book Sale.

"Some people get angry because they're first in line, and they aren't first to see a certain section of the books," said event organizer Flossie Turner. "But there's only so much you can see at once. Some people just can't wait."

It's become a kind of club almost. The same people arrive early for the spring and fall book sales. They get to know one another while waiting for the doors to open.

"Some people take it very, very seriously," said Jimmy Clarke, a higher education policy consultant who is often among the first to line up. "They view it like a business. They look for rare and unusual ones that they can fill their bookstores with or sell online or something. And others come with young children and take advantage of children's books and things like that."

Then, there's Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Louis Perret.

He doesn't arrive quite as early as some because his office doesn't close until 4:30 p.m. Still, he waits well over an hour for the doors to open the first day of the sale. 

"The closest I've ever gotten to the front of the line is No. 10," Perret said. "It's usually the same people. We all visit. Everybody knows what everybody else likes. I don't mind the people in front of me who collect albums, cookbooks, fiction. It's the people who collect biographies and history books that I have a problem with."

That's what he's after. Perret even brings his own rolling luggage to haul his loot home in.

"It can get quite heavy," he said with a laugh. "But I've had some incredible finds."

Perret has an impressive personal library of about 2,000 books spread across eight large bookshelves at his home, office and camp.

He has shelves in his kitchen, living room and bedroom at his home in the Saints Streets neighborhood. He has shelves in his office, conference room and closet at the downtown parish courthouse. 

Then there are the floor-to-ceiling bookcases at his camp near Judice. That's where he houses more than 400 books on American presidents, among others.

"My love of reading was instilled in me by my parents," Perret said. "Probably the book that hooked me the most when I was young was the 'People's Almanac' by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace. It's just filled with little idiosyncratic stories about the U.S. and world history, and I love that stuff."

Some of his best finds have come from the Friends of the Library Book Sale.

Among them are a large book filled with color photos of George Rodrigue's Blue Dog paintings and an original edition of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," which ignited the environmental movement by documenting the effects of pesticides.

Perret estimates that he's read 95 percent of the books in his personal library. He has about 100 books set aside to read when he retires, which he doesn't plan to do for another decade or so. Those books are mostly complicated, long reads he wants to devote himself to entirely while reading.

He only keeps his favorites in his personal collection. He donates the rest to the Friends of the Library for their book sales.

There are a handful of books he buys any time he comes across them at book or estate sales. He frequently loans or gifts them to anyone who might find them useful, especially aspiring politicians.

"Just Takin' Orders: A Southern Governor's Watergate" by Clyde Vidrine is one. The book, which was written by a bodyguard of four-term Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, shares details about political corruption under his leadership.

"The Last Hayride" and "Cross to Bear," both by John Maginnis, are also on the list. The first details Edwards' 1983 campaign for governor against David Treen, and the second details his 1991 campaign against David Duke and Buddy Roemer.

"The Dark Side of Camelot" by Seymour Hersh is another. Hersh, an investigative journalist, details alleged indiscretions and malfeasance by former President John F. Kennedy through interviews with former Secret Service agents and administration officials.

Clarke, too, is on a mission to buy up multiple copies of one particular book.

He's after "Saints and Strangers" by George F. Willison, which offers detailed insight into the lives of the Pilgrims before, during and after their arrival in America. The book features information on Clarke's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, John Robinson, an English pastor who offered guidance to the Pilgrims before boarding the Mayflower.

Clarke bought a copy of "Saints and Strangers" for less than $2 at a Friends of the Library Book Sale, and he's hoping to find a few more copies to give to his children and grandchildren.

One of the regulars he stands in line with ahead of sale actually brought him a copy of the book.

"He walks up to me and said 'Are you still trying to find copies of that book? I found another one,'" Clarke said. "He found it, bought it and brought it to the sale. And that really sums up the whole book sale. It's such a friendly, family, caring, good thing. And you get great books too."

The biannual book sale kicks off from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Heymann Center for members of the Friends of the Library. Non-members can pay $5 at the door.

The sale continues from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

Books are sold at a rate of $1 per inch for hardbacks and 50 cents per inch for paperbacks. Special first-edition, autographed and over-sized books are priced separately. Vinyl, DVDs, audio books, CDs will also be available for purchase.

Proceeds benefit the Lafayette Public Library. The Friends of the Library have donated almost $860,000 of their $1 million goal to the local library system so far.

Learn more at facebook.com/lafayettefriends.

Email Megan Wyatt at mwyatt@theadvocate.com.