It's the end of an era for Bay of Islands book lovers as Waipapa Rotary Club prepares for its last ever book fair on Friday and Saturday.
The demise of the annual event is not for the usual nonsense reasons offered for axing book fairs — that supposedly no one reads anymore, or that e-books have taken over — but because of something far more prosaic.
The fact is, after years of lugging around heavy boxes packed with books the volunteers' backs and knees just aren't up to the task any more.
Book fair committee spokesman Michael Bain said the club had decided ''with great reluctance'' to end the fair.
''But we're getting too old. We have crook knees and backs, there are not many of us left who can lift the boxes. Like a lot of service clubs we're not getting a lot of younger members.''
The fair's last hurrah will be at the Kerikeri Sports Complex by the Heritage Bypass on November 6-7 with the doors open from 9am-6pm on Friday and 9am-2pm on Saturday. Prices will range from 50 cents to $3.
Bain said about 10,000 books would be up for grabs. The majority was fiction with children's books, gardening, cooking and a smattering of history and foreign language represented among the 2000-odd non-fiction works.
The volunteers had fished out a few valuable book which would be sold separately on Trade Me but it was possible other treasures had snuck through.
Bain said the fair had been going more than 20 years but no was sure exactly when it had started.
The first venue was a covered car park below what is now the ANZ bank — ''It was dark and it smelt of urine in the corner'' — then progressed through a number of locations as it grew.
Other sites included a former hardware store which is now the Pioneer Tavern and the BaySports complex at Waipapa, first in the football pavilion and later the main stadium.
The fair had been held in the sports complex, where parking was easier, since 2019.
All proceeds went to local causes with a youth or future focus — such as sponsoring students to attend science events and leadership courses — or offering opportunities to people who might otherwise miss out for financial reasons.
Bain said club was keen to hear from any community groups willing to carry on the fair, and would hand over equipment such as signs and a collection of books to seed the next fair.
There was still a healthy interest in printed books, he said.
''There's still the book aficionados who like to have the book in their hand, others like to have non-fiction books around for reference. Books are going to be around for a while yet.''