The Red Cross Book Fair, the oldest book fair in the Waikato, turns 20 this year and is still going strong in the e-reader era.
In fact, notes long time co-organiser Philippa Robertson the news recently was all about people’s dwindling fascination with Kindles.
Regardless of the debate over how we read the Red Cross Book Fair, held annually each August, has only known one trend in its two decades – an ever growing number of readers eager to be matched with recycled books.
This year the happy matchmaking will take place at the Te Rapa Racecourse on August 26 to 28 – from 9am to 6pm on Friday, 10am to 5pm Saturday and 10am to 3pm Sunday. Entry is free.
In its earliest years the fair might bring in around $6000 for the good causes of the Red Cross midland region. Now it’s more likely to net around $60,000.
That’s a lot of books (and magazines) mostly sold for anything from less than a dollar to the giddy heights of $5.
It’s also a very well run affair thanks to a dedicated team that include Robertson’s sister, Jenny Beckett, and fellow fair stalwart Lin Ritchie, who have both been with the fair for its entire 20 years. Robertson has done 19 fairs.
To assist browsers, the books have been sorted into about 20 categories, including the ever popular gardening, business and education categories.
There is a collectables corner where rare and sought after books are carefully corralled for book dealers and collectors.
At the other end of the scale there is a $1 room where all books for adults are $1, magazines are two for $1 and children’s books are 5 for $1.
More upmarket, and also upstairs in the Centennial Lounge, most books are $3 except for bestsellers and those less than a year old, which are $5.
Fiction books are sorted by author name, which makes it easier for people to find their favourite authors, Robertson said.
“This year we have an amazing amount of embroidery books in beautiful condition. They will be popular,” she said.
“Religion used to be one of the most popular sections but now New Zealand non-fiction and war books probably head the list.”
What can be guaranteed is a lot of satisfied readers and another page turned in the 20 year history of the Waikato’s longest running book fair.