The 2019 Regent Book Sale

As I have mentioned before, one of Dunedin’s local traditions is the annual Regent Book Sale. Running from noon on a Friday to noon the following Saturday in either May or June, this is a charitable event, whereby a year’s worth of donated books are sold to raise funds for Dunedin’s grand old Regent Theatre in what is apparently the largest event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The sale is held in the Theatre itself, and this is what it looked like at 2.30 a.m. this morning:

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(Why, yes. I always go in the middle of the night, to avoid the crowds. It is a Saturday, after all. Besides, the people behind the counters are always very grateful for conversation to keep them awake).

The stuff on offer is, as you’d expect, varied. This year the fantasy and science-fiction had fewer Moorcocks than I’d noticed before, and I only saw one Jack Vance (which I bought). Most of the authors were more obscure ones, whom I wasn’t familiar with, though there was invariably the annoying tendency for a given book to be the second one in a trilogy. Even the Twilight books didn’t actually have Meyer’s original. I didn’t see any Wise Phuuls there, for which I was vaguely grateful. Sure, it likely means I’m too obscure to be obscure (if you get my meaning), but it at least means those people who have bought my work aren’t trying to get rid of it. Not yet anyway.

Of course, the stock is added to over the course of the evening, as people buy things, and other stuff is taken out of storage, but I can only report what was going on at that time. I did notice that the foreign language book section was overwhelmingly German for some reason, while I didn’t see a single Dickens in the literature section (plenty of Ben Johnsons though, and I was tempted to get the complete works of Christopher Marlowe).

Here is what I ended up getting, at $1 each:

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(Purchases are wrapped in newspaper).

As I was on the way out, I did notice a very handsome red leather version of Thomas Macaulay’s History of England – the full four volumes for $10. In another year, I would have bought it, but with my extremely limited shelf space, I now only buy books if I am certain to read them, and I have enough to read as it is. Devoting time and space to Macaulay’s enthusiastic Whiggery – which is now hideously obsolete in historiographical terms – is not on my immediate agenda, and I suspect the public library has a copy anyway. Oh well – I’ll see what turns up next year.

P.S. The Regent Book Sale was the subject of my very first piece of published fiction, a poem that appeared in the Otago Daily Times back in May 2009. Here it is.

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