2023 Regent Booksale Haul: An Amusing Find

I visited the new-look Dunedin Regent Booksale tonight.

This venerable institution has been running here for decades – an annual sale of donated second-hand books, to raise funds for the upkeep of the Regent Theatre. Back in the Good Old Days, the sale was run in the Regent Theatre itself, and ran from 12pm on a Friday to 12pm on a Saturday. This meant you could wander through at 3 a.m., and it would be uncrowded and quiet.

Covid rather did a number on the Booksale, of course, but I’m still grumbling about the change of times. Rather than being continuous for 24 hours, it is now 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday. And rather than the Regent Theatre, it is now located at the Edgar Centre. Which means much, much more room… but less soul. Damn it, I liked the 3 a.m. visits. (https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2019/06/08/the-2019-regent-book-sale/)

Anyway, I made a few interesting purchases, each item $1:

  • Androcles and the Lion, Overruled, and Pygmalion (plays), by Bernard Shaw. This particular copy was awarded to a student at Otago Girls’ High School for Botany, during Christmas 1949 prizegiving. Rather sad to consider that over 73 years later, said high school student has probably died.
  • The Diary of Samuel Pepys. This edition is ‘suitably edited,’ and has an inscription ‘To -, with all my love and best wishes on your birthday. From -.’
  • The Bull from the Sea, by Mary Renault. Inscription has a name and 4th April, 1994, Waikouaiti.
  • Piers the Ploughman, by William Langland.
  • Sybil, by Benjamin Disraeli.
  • The Golden Ass, by Apuleius (Robert Graves translation)
  • Six Renaissance Tragedies, edited by Colin Gibson. Gibson was an academic at the local University of Otago, who passed away in December 2022.

Funny how some books can tell their own real-world story.

I was disappointed by the Fantasy and Science-Fiction selection this year. Honestly, most second-hand bookshops would have a better selection. There were surprisingly few Michael Moorcocks by the standards of such events. Old pulp fantasy – or at least the slender 150-200 page variety – is giving way to Fat Fantasy, so far as the Booksale is concerned. Lots of David Eddings.

But the strangest find of all? An unsigned, and likely unread, second-hand copy of Wise Phuul. Located in the YA Fiction section, rather than Fantasy, and priced at $4, rather than the standard $1. I decided to buy it, so that I can donate it to the Otago University Students’ Association’s Free Library shelf. My personal guess is that this was a ‘gifted’ copy, rather than a bought one.

There can’t be too many attendees at the Regent Booksale who stumble upon a copy of their own book.

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