“UNLESS PRICED WITH STICKERS” – Otumoetai College Book Fair


Handwritten price lists are taped up all around the Baycourt Community & Arts Centre X Space. It’s another book fair – make that books, magazines, periodicals, jigsaw puzzles, games, vinyl records, sheet music and a table of valuable items “for tender”.

The PTA have been holding these for years and they are a regular source of income for the College. It must be a regular event for buyers too as there are “shoppers” coming and going all the time I am there. There is a queue and the mobile eftpos machine is doing great duty painlessly relieving us of our “loose change”.

There are trestles and trestles of stuff to lookover and buy. To help there are categories. Like Humour, Children, Cooking, New Zealand. And there on top of a stack of indigenous books is a well-thumbed tattered copy of a Barry Crump. They were neatly stacked at one stage and the parent organisers keep going round straightening and tidying and offering plastic bags. Mine start to fall apart under the weight of my proposed purchases. Talk about impulse buying; I’d only come to have a look for ARTbop.

I don’t buy “A Complete Guide to Heraldry” but I do sit on the floor and shuffle through the old vinyl records and sheet music – you all know what you’re getting for Christmas. I purchase heaps of back issues of Historic Places and Heritage – overseas visitors will still love to sit and leaf through these. A smattering of Cuisine magazines ; a soft cover book of poetry; a Book of New Zealand Verse 1923-45; Billy T James – Hard Case Book II; Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook; The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes and for anyone who used the “toilet” at motocross or in the depths of an aging continental restaurant – “At your convenience: Public Toilets from Around the World”

They thank me for making my purchases. I tell the truth – I did it for me. It was better than being let loose in a sweet shop!! As I totter out with my last load a Mother and Daughter walk past and one says to the other. “I’m coming back tomorrow with some more money.”

Rosemary Balu


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