Fri, Jun 10, 2022 5:00 PM

Fairy tales and mysteries at Waterlea


Matt Brown

The flicker of book pages and hushed murmurs fill the Waterlea Racecourse community centre as streams of bargain hunters thumb through a mountain of boxes.

Bibliophiles’ search for their next good read, or a childhood favourite, is a sure bet at the Blenheim and Beavertown Lion’s Book Fair where tens of thousands of books are for sale.

Book fair convenor Gaynor Cotching says the fair, which is raising money for a slew of Marlborough charities, got off to a roaring start yesterday.

“We had a queue waiting out the door at 8.30 in the morning,” she says.

And with about 30,000 books on offer, there’s likely something for everyone.

“We reckon we’ve handled around 40,000 books – we have about 30,000 in here,” Gaynor says.

“We think everyone during lockdown had a chance to clear out attics and cupboards.”

The fair goes through to Sunday, with Thursday and Friday catering to the more extreme bookworms, says Gaynor, while Saturday and Sunday tend to attract a younger, more family-oriented audience.

She says they hope to break their fundraising record of $20,000 this year, with the bulk of the funds going to Marlborough-based charity School Start First Impressions.

“When children turn five, they get a box with a cake, a present and a school uniform – everything they need to start school with pride,” says Gaynor.

“We support other charities, but that’s the main one.”

It’s not just your ordinary paperbacks at the fair, with several collectibles making an appearance – and according to Gaynor, flying out the door.

The Flying Parson and Dick Christian, by Paget & Irvine, signed by the author and number 55 in a limited run of 100 is up for sale for $400.

The Romance of Westland by A J Harrop, written in 1923 is another surprising collector’s item going for $130.

Gaynor says she doesn’t know why it’s worth that, but is happy nonetheless.

Books would usually get two years at the sale, before being donated to rest homes or other Lions Clubs around New Zealand.

But the remaining books on the collectible table, which was chocka yesterday, will all be listed for auction on Trademe.

The fair is on all weekend, from 9am to 4pm, with most books priced at an affordable $2 each, at the Waterlea Racecourse. Please use the Linton Street entrance, just off Hutcheson Street.

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