No happy ending for book fairs
IT’S THE final chapter for two of Auckland’s largest book fairs and digital media could be to blame.
Epsom Rotary Club held its final annual book fair this month after 19 years.
The event at Mt Eden War Memorial hall, attracted thousands of customers and made $20,000 with profits put towards the club’s community projects.
‘‘It’s the end of an era,’’ club president Alan Snaith says.
‘‘We started tentatively in 1996 at Marcellin College school hall with the support of couple of other Rotary Clubs. After some years of growth we had to move to larger and more visible premises at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall.’’
Snaith says times are changing, with many reading on digital media and doing research online.
‘‘There has been a significant drop in demand for the likes of reference books, recipe books and all nonfiction material. Even hardback novels don’t sell like they used to.
‘‘Its time to accept the change and stop.’’
Auckland’s Upstart Press director Kevin Chapman says e-books give consumers cheaper options.
‘‘If you think about the fact people can buy e-books for $10 or less, secondhand books are far less attractive.’’
E-books are popular for those who want to dispose of the book after reading, Chapman says.
‘‘They’re the books people wanted to read once or were ashamed to read.’’
Chapman says sales of new paperback books have not been hit by e-books as much as people may think.
‘‘I know of people who bought books on an e-reader and then have gone out to buy a paperback copy.’’
Rotary member David Taylor says the fair has seen a decline in book sales over the years, particularly in non-fiction.
‘‘If you want to research something as far as the second stuff goes you will go online and Google it or Wikipedia it, rather than buy a book on it.’’
He says the fair’s running costs were getting too high.
‘‘Basically we are not getting the sale volumes to pay for all the extras,’’ Taylor says.
‘‘We have to hire the hall, hire tables and eftpos, and each year it goes up.’’
It’s numbing to see the event come to an end, Taylor says.
‘‘We’ve got to find other things we can do in the community that is better value for money.’’
Variety the Children’s Charity is holding its final Monster Book Fair at Alexandra Park in July.
Proceeds from the annual event go towards the charity’s work helping sick, disabled and disadvantaged Kiwi youngsters.
But running the event has taken a toll on volunteers over the last 10 years.
Variety’s community engagement manager Carly Thomson says the fair relies on volunteers to work fulltime for up to five days.
‘‘Basically our volunteers are exhausted and can’t commit to running it,’’ she says.
‘‘It was a hard decision to make and it is a shame.’’
Thomson says the Variety fair has also noticed a drop in sales.
The charity is planning to reformat its book fair to make it easier for volunteers and is also looking at online options.
‘‘People like donating books and we don’t want to stop that,’’ Thomson says.
‘‘We are in discussions with a few people and in the next month or two will have a clear plan of what is to come.’’
Epsom Rotary Club member David Taylor says the club’s book fair wasn’t selling enough to sustain the annual event.
After 19 years, the Epsom Rotary Club held its final book fair.