It will be the end of an era for Bay of Islands book lovers when the Waipapa Rotary Club opens the doors on its final book fair tomorrow 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 any more, or that e-books have taken over - but 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 saying the club had decided, ''with great reluctance,'' to call it a day.
''We're getting too old. We have crook knees and backs. There aren't many of us left who can lift the boxes. Like a lot of service clubs, we're not getting a lot of younger members," he said.
The fair's last hurrah will be at the Kerikeri Sports Complex, by the Heritage Bypass, the doors opening from 9am to 6pm tomorrow and 9am to - 2pm on Saturday. Prices will range from 50 cents to $3.
Bain said about 10,000 books would be up for grabs. The majority were fiction, but children's books, gardening, cooking and a smattering of history and foreign language tomes were amongst the 2000-odd non-fiction titled.
The volunteers had fished out a few valuable books that would be sold separately on Trade Me, but it was possible that other treasures had snuck through.
Bain said the fair had been going for more than 20 years, but no one 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'' - followed by a number of locations as it grew, including 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.
It moved to the sports complex, where parking was easier, last year.
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.''