This year’s annual Founders Book Fair is the biggest yet – and that’s no hyperbole.

The delay in the timing of the fair from earlier this year due to the COVID-19 shutdown has meant donations for the fair are at an all-time high.

Taking place from 17-26 October, the annual Book Fair is expected to draw about 12,000 people to Founders Heritage Park over the course of 10 days. 

Not just a fair for book lovers, there is a wide variety of puzzles, board games, magazines and mixed media such as vinyl records, CDs, DVDs and cassette tapes on offer with prices starting as low as 50 cents.

Founders Book Fair co-ordinator Karen Clark said volunteers had been visiting Founders twice a week throughout the year to check, sort and box the donations. There were already more than 80 pallets, each stacked with banana boxes full of books.

The deluge of donations has meant the puzzles section of the fair is particularly well stocked, and the amount of mixed media donated has meant it will this year have its own, signposted space opposite the Granary.

“It’s fascinating. It’s amazing what people donate. We get the more expensive books too, you just never know what you’re going to find in the boxes,” she said.

Good quality or as-new paperbacks were still the most commonly snapped up item, but rare books, self-help books and cookbooks were also popular.

Book donations came in throughout the year and some were given to hospitals, Pacific Island schools, refugee communities and prisons, Karen said.

Anne Cameron, who has been helping out with the book fair for more than 20 years, said every year was a bit different, but people seemed to be less likely to hold on to their books nowadays.  

“We often get brand-new books donated.”

Councillor and Community Services Chair Matt Lawrey said the success of the book fair was a credit to the brilliant volunteers who make it happen, many of whom work year-round on the fundraiser.

“I reckon you’d be hard-pressed to find a community event anywhere in the country that ticks as many boxes as our Book Fair.  It raises funds for Founders Heritage Park, it’s a brilliant form of recycling, it saves people – particularly families – money on books and it’s a celebration of the written word. It really is a very special Nelson event.” 

Fair-goers are asked to bring reusable bags to take home their purchases. Entry to the fair is $2, or a 10-day pass costs $5. Entry is free for under 12s.