In a world of Netflix, Neon, and nine million mobile apps, you could be surprised to learn there's a used book renaissance going on.
While there are fewer secondhand bookstores around these days, the ones that do exist are thriving.
In the Bay of Plenty, Briar Simons' Xanadu Book Exchange is understood to be the largest secondhand bookstore in the Southern Hemisphere - home to an estimated 15 million books, dating from the early-1800s up.
If 150 customers a week didn't weed her library so feverishly, she'd be buried alive.
The view from the second storey of her 200sqm-plus shop is like looking down on a maze - and a sensory one at that - with a patchwork of coloured book spines and the earthy smell of pages.
She knows all of her books, even the elusive ones.
When staff member Cathy Morgan politely interrupts us because she can't find books on "AA", Briar turns on her internal computer.
"Alcoholics Anonymous? Yeah, they are here," she says, as she knowingly enters the maze and expertly finds them within seconds.
She's rented this shop for seven years and has another nine years to go on her lease, which the 56-year-old singleton says will see her out until retirement.
"You can't even get a car park most days, and they come from all over New Zealand, and before Covid, all over the world."
She will typically spend $1 to acquire a used book she can resell for $3, $4, or $5 and she gives customers $1 back for every book they return after reading.
"Everybody else went out of business because they priced too high, so I keep it reasonable for everyone to afford."
And if a customer was to stumble upon a rare book? She'd still sell it for loose change.
"If somebody comes in and buys something and it's worth thousands, that's fine for them. I'm happy to make what I make.
"I'm not going to be greedy, because if I start thinking 'Is this worth something more?', then it'll just take all the pleasure out of it for me. I'd rather sell in bulk."
She acquires 8000 books every three weeks, which she houses in her home garage, as well as 15 hired storage units, mostly from people clearing out house lots.
"Some of them are double-ups but as long as I don't have too many [copies], I'll buy it. I know what I've got and I know what I need."
As the books come in, she memorises the titles.
"People will say: 'Have you got it?' and I'll say 'yes, or no'.
"They all sell, eventually," noting she spends $100 a month on sticker dot labels, before shelving the books alphabetically and into categories.
She and her five casual staff members (all prolific readers and each one in charge of a different genre) offer a wait-list service and will post to out-of-towners who pay online.
Sci-fi fantasy is their most sought-after genre.
Certain authors reign supreme: Lee Child, Lesley Pearse, Nora Roberts.
Lucinda Riley's The Seven Sisters series is highly popular - "with at least four requests a week" - but hard to come by.
"I say 'maybe not today, but who knows what's going to come in tomorrow'."
Books that have spawned Netflix series, such as Dune and Bridgerton, also fly off the shelves.
Some customers buy books purely for home decor, including the older books in her Classics and Poetry Room for wedding table centrepieces.
Simons entered the book trade after she left her last job at Farmers Trading after 24 years. A frequent visitor to the markets, as well as book crazy, she decided a secondhand bookstore would go well.
Nowadays she's so busy though, she doesn't have much time to read. As well as owning Xanadu Book Exchange (Xanadu meaning a "place of wonderment"), she has alternative revenue sources through a jigsaw, DVD, and vinyl store next door, Xanadu Cafe further down the road, and come August, a second-hand bric-a-brac, furniture, and art store.
She sells gift vouchers and also sells books to schools and kindergartens.
Contrary to belief, technology hasn't affected the book trade, she says.
"A lot of people have eBooks but they don't like them. Older people can magnify the text, which is good for them, but generally, people when they relax, like not to be looking at a computer screen. They like to open books and hold them.
"Just knowing that I'm providing a really great service for customers and I'm helping younger generations, and older people still be able to do what they love to do, which is read, I get pleasure out of that.
"I make so many people happy."
Fraser Newman, the 35-year-old owner of Atlantis Bookshop in Rotorua, says he's seeing more domestic tourists, who, unlike international ones, drive, and don't have baggage limits, meaning they can spend more.
Owning a bookstore which he's done since 2014 - is not as easy as it used to be, but there's a lot of opportunities if you take it seriously, and "not a hobby".
"Run it professionally, organise everything, be ruthless in what you don't accept," explaining he won't accept Reader's Digests or former library books, is "very selective" in terms of cooking and gardening books, and cautious of reads that are fads or age badly.
Why? Because books can't be accumulated in storage indefinitely and avenues have to be found for moving them on, which is hard now China has stopped taking New Zealand's recyclables.
While community groups are able to sell books at a "dollar or two" at book fairs and markets, you pay more of a "premium" at stores that are open all year round and the books are available "right here, right now".
"We have to be a bit more sustainable than that."
His books, of which he has 30,000, range in price from $1 to $5 for "average fiction", and the most expensive $300 or more for "really, old antique and collectibles".
He offers store credit in lieu of cash.
There isn't much secondhand bookstores don't offer, other than new releases, and visitors are charmed by the variety and the "magical, mythical" environment of stacks piled everywhere, music, and discovering and browsing the unexpected.
"It's relaxing," Newman, a former insurance worker, and English teacher in China, says of having one's nose in a book.
"You step away from the screen and you haven't got that light in your face."
Books for charity; and why we love reading
Like many used bookstores, nonprofit groups are reaping the financial rewards of selling a good read.
Patricia Moore, secretary of charity group Friends of the Library, which financially supports community projects run by Rotorua Library, runs book sales at Kuirau Park on the first and third Saturday of every month, attracting up to 200 readers.
Started in 1991, Moore says non-fiction books are their most popular sellers, alongside fiction, children's books, and titles that have gone out of print. They also regularly receive inquiries for books in te reo Māori.
They sell paperbacks at 50 cents, most other titles are priced between $1 and $5, and collectibles are no more than $35.
"Books are not dying out, from our experience."
And, when it comes to used ones, Emeritus Professor Tom Nicholson of literacy education at Massey Institute of Education, believes the demand is partly because of the classic motivators: low price and the lure of a bargain.
"A $40 book selling for $5 is hard to resist. It is exciting to get a bargain, especially if it is something you want," he says.
What's more, this "new age of the world pandemic", may also be a factor.
"We are stuck here at the bottom of the earth, not going anywhere for the moment.
"Books are a way for us to escape and find adventure, get away from the humdrum, everyday lives we lead.
"There is also the feeling that we are saving the planet if we buy a used book, saving some beautiful trees.
"I think people feel better if they read a book that someone else has read before. If someone else has read it, you feel that it must have something in it that you need to read."
According to a New Zealand Book Council (now Read NZ Te Pou Muramura) Survey in 2018, 86 per cent of adult New Zealanders read at least one book in 12 months; those who do read claimed they averaged 35 books a year.
In 2019, New Zealand data from Nielsen BookScan showed 6.4 million books were sold here. It's not known, however, what figures secondhand books generate.
Nicholson says another factor leading to increased demand, might be the kind of bookshop.
"From what I read, people are attracted to a shop that has a point of difference. If it sells coffee and cake, if the books on sale are cheap, if the owner is friendly and knowledgeable about books.
"[And] there is always that faint hope of finding gold, like a signed, first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, or a dog-eared children's book you read when you were little."
New Zealanders have always liked reading.
"A lot of us read on the internet, but there are many book lovers.
"When I see someone on the bus or train reading a hard copy book, it makes me happy. Not sure why. Maybe it brings back nice memories of how books can take you into a different place, into different lives. It is therapeutic," he says.
"You can see true love, meet people you would like to have as friends, you can watch the baddies crash and burn, you can share wonderful achievements, you can believe in the New Zealand dream again."
Places to visit
Xanadu Book Exchange
2C Ashley Place, Pāpāmoa.
Open: Tue-Sat, 9am-4pm.
Top tip: Briar Simons suggests using your phone's GPS to find her store, as some find it tricky to locate.
1206 Eruera St, Rotorua.
Open: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-4pm, un 10am-3pm.
Friends of the Library
Kuirau Park (at the old tea kiosk).
Open: The first and third Saturday of the month, 9am-1pm.
Funds raised go towards community projects.