Saturday, December 24, 2011

Save the Children book sale at UWA

Guest post written in August for Mandi at That Book You Like:

The Save the Children booksale at UWA

This weekend, two of the best things about Perth in winter coincided. On days of the most pleasant winter weather, in which the sky was the most brilliant blue, and the temperature stayed in the low 20s, the charity Save the Children held its giant secondhand book sale in the Undercroft of Winthrop Hall, at the University of Western Australia. It’s a picturesque setting, with its location beside the Swan River and its beautiful old limestone buildings, extensive lawns and groves of trees.


The opening evening is so popular that you have to arrive early and queue to get in; by the time the doors opened, the queue snaked around the building, and was about 250 metres long, revealing an eclectic mix of booklovers: older couples, young students, businessmen and families. Once a certain number have passed through the door, new people can only enter as others leave, and so the wait can be frustratingly long. But I cannot think of a more pleasant place to be forced to queue in.


The book sale runs for six days, from 5pm on the Friday afternoon, until 4pm the following Wednesday, and they have many thousands of books for sale, with the stock regularly replenished: as books are sold, new boxes appear and the tables are re-filled. It means there is no best time to go, and repeat visits are essential.

The excitement comes from not knowing what you will find, but knowing whatever it is, it will be a bargain. My search is for old Penguins to complete my collection, and they were priced between $2 and $3 per copy, prices I rarely find anywhere else these days. But they also had beautiful hardback art books for less than $10, and old and collectible hardback books for around the same price. And they have tables devoted to many other categories: children’s titles, foreign language, religion, cookery, travel, crime, Australiana, textbooks and many more, as well as vinyl records, CDs, maps, and sheet music. On Tuesday remaining books are sold at half-price, and on Wednesday you can fill a box for $15.

Today's purchases - Penguins

I was there when the doors opened on Friday afternoon, and again when they opened Saturday morning. And this year I was very lucky: I found 69 numbered pre-1970s Penguins to add to the collection, and 19 other early Penguins from ancillary series like the Classics and Pelicans. And for my young daughter, who has also caught the collecting bug, 12 Enid Blyton titles and a few early Puffins.

Today's purchases - kids

I was particularly excited to find 3 new Michael Innes’ titles, including his first mystery novel Death at the President’s Lodging, which I have heard is one of his best. It was a review of this book by Jane at the blog Fleur Fisher in her world which first enticed me to read Michael Innes, and he has gone on to be one of my favourite authors. I have been searching for a copy ever since. I plan to start reading it tonight.

1 comment:

  1. What lovely tottering piles of Penguins! The sale sounds very much like the ones at Newcastle Uni (sadly only in alternate years) where I've got many of the best books in my collection(s -- not only Penguins, I'm afraid).

    I love this blog as an ancillary to your main one -- and am very impressed that you're organised enough to find the time with both PhD and family! I've started keeping notes of where and when I found each of my books (and how much I paid) -- looking them over brings back lots of good memories as they nearly all come from bricks and mortar second-hand bookshops, book fairs and op shops (though also a few from Abe and Ebay).

    Merry Christmas and all the best for happy collecting in 2012!