Mysteries of the Unexplained amused two women sorting books for the two Whangārei Zonta clubs' Great New Zealand Book Sale.

The title was apt considering the annual event has become huge in an age when, had the pundits been right, people should be reading only on electronic devices by now.

But paper still rocks. Hundreds of thousands of books, half a million dollars and 25 years after it started, the Great New Zealand Book Sale - on next weekend - is still pulling in customers from far and wide.

"We have so much help from local businesses as well as all the people who donate the books," Hatea club treasurer and book sale co-ordinator Judy Oliver said.


Despite a cut off date, every year people still try to drop them off only days before the sale.

"It's just too late, we're really busy in the last few days sorting books and preparing for the sale."

For months Zonta club members have been collecting, sorting and packing books into a thousand or more cardboard boxes in a commercial space in Whangārei. As for what books are hot, usually they are bestsellers from the previous few years.

"We've got a whole box full of Fifty Shades of Grey over there," Whangārei club coordinator Glenys Westlake pointed out.

As for what's not hot, "Encyclopedias!"

Yes, there are some things Google does better, even for book lovers.

"We get given encyclopedias every year, we take them down there and every year we're left with them," Oliver said.

''We have a ring around charity shops and ask if they'd like any of the books. 'They always take the Mills and Boons as well, but we can't sell them at the book sale.''

After next weekend's outing the sale would have raised more than $500,000 for the support and education of women in the community.

Those good deeds include supporting Whangārei women's refuges, teen parents, helping women back into education with pre-study programmes, other scholarships,
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Dyslexia Plus Whangārei and funding a young women's voyage on the Northland sail training ship, R Tucker Thompson.

As well as giving to local causes, the Whangārei and the Hatea clubs put proceeds into the national Zonta organisation's annual cause. This year it is Peri-natal Anxiety and Depression Aotearoa (PADA).

The doors will open on the Great New Zealand Book Sale at Forum North at 7am on Saturday, July 28 until 5pm, and again on Sunday, July 29, from 7am-3pm.