Books before blogging


A small team of volunteers has spent the last three weeks sorting books for the Rotary Club of Oamaru’s Bookarama.

It’s a big job – we advertised we’d be open for drop offs from 10 to 12 from Monday to Saturday and most days it’s been nearer 5pm that we’ve closed.

We have thousands of books, jig saw puzzles, CDs, DVDs, videos, games, magazines and a few other items we’re not sure how to categorise.

All have been donated and many of the donors have told us they’ll be back to buy replacements.

It’s a lot of work but worth it as it’s also a wonderful fundraiser and all the profit goes to community initiatives.

We open at 10am today and if the past is any guide, buyers will be queuing to get in for more than an hour before that.

For the next five days – and possibly longer as we clean-up – blogging will be light as Bookarama will take priority.

365 days of gratitude


Oamaru Rotary’s annual Bookarama opened today.

Book collection started months ago and members have been sorting, pricing the donations.

Every box of books holds surprises – some of them disappointing.

One of the volunteer sorters introduced us to the bed test – would you feel comfortable if this book was touching your sheets while you were reading it in bed?

Quite a lot of books fail that test – the better ones are sent to the recycling centre, the worst are dumped.

But thousands of books pass the test, some so well that they get priced so we sell them for considerably more than the $2 that most go for.

Last year we made around $20,000.

We’re hoping this year’s sale will raise a similar amount.

Whatever we make, we’re grateful for the generosity of the people who donate books, the many volunteers who sort and sell them and the many more who buy them.

365 days of gratitude


For the second day in a row I’ve been working with other volunteers setting up for Rotary’s annual Bookarama.

It involves a lot of lifting, carrying and sorting.

My Fitbit tells me I’ve walked more than 23,000 steps today – that’s more than 14 kilometres – and my arms tell me they’ve done a lot more work than they usually do.

Tonight I’m grateful for the opportunity to relax and the satisfaction that comes from knowing I’ve earned it.

Bookarama retrospective


Preparing for and working at Rotary’s Bookarama has occupied me for the best part of  the past week.

People-watchers would find the buyers interesting. Dealers line up at the door before opening morning and run to the tables, others take a more leisurely approach. Some come once, some make return visits. Some are looking for particular titles or authors, others are less prescriptive. Some seek advice or want to chat, others are happy to browse and buy by themselves.

Quite a few buy bag loads of books, many of which they will donate back next year for re-sale, some buy in singles or small numbers.

A few unusual books are individually priced, few for more than $10 and those published recently are also priced – $2 for those from 2011 and 12; $4 for 2013 and 14 and $6 for the last two years. Children’s books are sold at two for $1, Mills and Boons go for $10 a box and all other books are just $1 each.

When it comes to paying, some forgo generous amounts of change while others accept small amounts back. That should not be seen to be judging anyone. Someone’s $9 change from a $20 note for 10 books might not be as important as another’s $1 from a $20 note for 19 books.

In the last few years we’ve found no interest in encyclopedias, atlases or dictionaries and hard back fiction isn’t as popular as paperbacks.

Today we’ll be cleaning up. Left over children’s books will go to the food bank, any good quality books left will be packed up for next year, some of the old books might be offered to dealers and the rest will go to the resource recovery centre for sale or recycling.

This is the club’s biggest annual fundraiser and all proceeds go to the community.

It depends on the generosity of people who donate books, those who buy them and others, not all of whom are Rotary members, who sort and sell them. It’s hard work but also both enjoyable and rewarding.




366 days of gratitude


E-books have their place but I still prefer real books.

I like the feel of them, the way it’s easy to tell how far through I’ve got and to flick back if I need to check something I’ve read.

I also like the way I can pass on a book to someone else, whether it’s a family member, friend or to help a worthy cause.

Thankfully lots of other people are still reading real books and passing them on to Rotary’s Bookarama and today I’m grateful for them.

Books by the box load


The Rotary Club of Oamaru’s annual Booakrama opened at 9 this morning.

For the past few weeks members and friends have been sorting books donated by the public.

It’s a fascinating exercise which shows there are a few too many people with a Presbyterian approach to books – they’ve been kept where they’ve got damp or just kept too long so they’re dirty and musty and have to be taken to the recycling centre or dumped.

However while there are lots of those there are many more good books which will be snapped up by people whose search for a bargain contributes to the club’s main fundraising effort.

How good a book is and what it’s worth exercises the sorters. Is a signed, first edition of a Wilbur Smith hard back a treasure or just another quick read? Are these old books precious or well past their read-by dates?

We usually take the approach that the books have been given to us to be sold and it’s better to price them low and miss the odd windfall profit than to price them too high and have them left on the tables.

Too many books?


Every now and then my farmer suggests we have too many books.

I tell him there’s no such thing as too many books.

Even though I spent three hours last night culling out 14 bags (about the size of ones from the supermarket) of books for the Rotary Bookarama and there are no gaps on the book shelves I’m not prepared to concede he has a point.

The problem, if there is one, is too few shelves not too many books.

Judging books by covers


 You can’t judge a book by its cover, nor can you judge what someone will read by their appearance.

Helping at last week’s Rotary Bookarama in Oamaru was a fascinating study in human nature.

Had I put bets on what people might be interested in I’d have been sadlyout of pocket: the woman I thought might go for something literary opted for chick lit; the one I’d classified as a chcik-lit fan chose biographies; the mild-mannered bloke went for horror; one who looked like a professor bought westerns and a little old lady chose the raciest Mills and Boons.

The club took in a little more than $10,000 which was up about $1,000 on last year’s total.

That’s not a bad earner when most hardbacks were sold for only a dollar and paperbacks for half that.

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