Heads up… Brisbane’s longest-running Book Fair is coming soon! The UQ Alumni Book Fair will be spread over four glorious days in April/May 2022 with heaps more than text books.
This annual fundraiser is a much awaited event for Brisbane booklovers. Based at the University of Queensland, St Lucia campus, there is something for every reader and collector.
I’ll be going with a BIG carry bag!
The Book Fair is organised by volunteers who harness their love of books and generously donate their time to help raise funds to support researchers, educators and residential scholarships for UQ students.
Come along to the Book Fair for a huge range of—-
Pre-loved books of every genre for every age group
Occasional photographs, print or piece of memorabilia
Special Family Day for young readers
The Rare Book auction is biennial and next event is 2023
Register now White Gloves talk on rare Australian books at UQ Fryer Library.
In November I attended two important events for any emerging writer – publishing and bookselling. There is a bonus short story at the end of my report.
The first event I attendedwas “Pathways to Publishing” at Brisbane Square Library CBD hosted by Kylie Kaden, Carolyn Martinez and David Bobis. Dr Kate Steele was unable to attend but there was much advice to hear and many questions to ask. No trade secrets here. The photos (below) show the tilted windows behind the speakers platform but not a clear view of the Victoria Bridge and the ferries going up and down the Brisbane River.
One hour flew by. However, I’m too lazy to embrace the promotional rigors of self-publishing. I did learn that persistence pays off. Flipside: if you are traditionally published your publisher takes the weight off but the finished product is up to them, cover design and all. Meanwhile I must try to write a completed manuscript.
Got a load of newly minted books in boxes in your hallway? Congrats, next comes The Bookselling
State Library has many rooms but this room is stunning with a mirrored ceiling and one end open to the balmy night breeze. The permanent wall display cases are crowded with valuable antique tea cups and saucers.
The venue filled up and was buzzing from 5pm-9pm but unfortunately nobody knew there was a Meet & Greet in another section with food and wine, so by the end of the night we were famished.
Early on, a cup of hot coffee had spilled across our table. It soaked a lovely tablecloth which had to be discreetly removed. I scored a beverage-damaged book which I shall enjoy reading even if the aroma of caffeine tingles my tastebuds.
No book sales for our table but it was a night of lively conversation and I handed out several SWWQ membership leaflets.
Your Bonus Reading
Being an exponent of public transport on both occasions I travelled to and from the venues in council buses. Waiting at a city bus stop on a Friday night can be an interesting experience.
I saw the drunk staggering along the pavement and I hoped he and his wildly waving bottle of spirits would keep going. No, he lurched to a stop in front of me. To attract my attention, he bellowed “Hey, hey darlin” and leaned forward. His voice dropped. “I jus wanna say that’s a lovely dress ya wearin.” He let out a cackle and stumbled away, only to stop again. I refused eye contact but I knew he was looking back at me. He shouted in triumph “Bet ya didn’t expect that!” I gave a tiny smile then jumped up and practically ran to my bus.
Guess what?The bus driver was new, took a wrong turn and actually got his whole busload of passengers lost! I didn’t notice until I looked up and had not the foggiest idea where we were. Neither did the bus driver. The bus meandered through the night while we muttered to each other. Thankfully a school teacher-type woman gave him directions on how to get back on route. Good old human navigation.
I’ve no complaints because it was an almost magical Harry Potter experience being somewhere unrecognisable, going down steep streets, swerving around wide corners, passing twinkling cafes and glittering nightclubs. The woman who got us back on track left the bus before me. Eventually I arrived at my stop, none the worse for an unscheduled detour. As I alighted I experienced a twinge of regret for not raising my voice and saying “Thank you” to the woman for her calm control of the situation.
Virago is an international publisher of books by women for all readers, everywhere. Established in 1973, their mission has been to champion women’s voices and bring them to the widest possible readership around the world. They found me! From fiction and politics to history and classic children’s stories, their writers continue to win acclaim, break new ground and enrich the lives of readers. That’s me! Read on…
My Goodreads Book Review
Superb anthology of the last forty years of Virago Modern Classics with a gorgeous bookcover illustration. Great for readers who appreciate women writers and also for students studying literature. Each contemporary author writes a sincere and thoughtful introduction from their own perspective as a reader. They cover the classics, from fiction and comedy to famous diaries and autobiographies. For example, Margaret Drabble discusses Jane Austen ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and further on Jilly Cooper talks about E. M. Delafield ‘The Diary of a Provincial Lady’. Although I’ve not read ‘Strangers on a Train’ by Patricia Highsmith, I think Claire Messud has convinced me to read it. At the end of Amanda Craig’s introduction on Rebecca West ‘The Fountain Overflows’ she says ‘The novel is one of those rare books that leaves the reader feeling happier and more hopeful than before.” And that’s exactly what this Virago Modern Classics makes me feel ♥ https://www.goodreads.com/gretchenbernetward
Virago celebrated their fortieth anniversary of Virago Modern Classics, Virago Press published the book I so eagerly purchased ‘Writers as Readers’, an anthology of forty introductions from the last four decades…books that deserve once again to be read and loved. Virago also reintroduced the iconic green spines across their whole booklist.
Virago has a huge booklist, I’m sure you’ve read several of their titles, and rather than me listing every book available, you can visit their beautiful website: https://www.virago.co.uk/
The University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair 2019 at St Lucia, Brisbane, had been in full swing for a couple of days before I arrived on the third day. One more day to go with no sign of running out of keen customers or brilliant book bargains.
The Exhibition Hall is huge!
The whole area was filled with tables covered in books of every shape, size, colour and genre. I couldn’t name every section without going cross-eyed but there were technical books, reference books, fiction, non-fiction, and fun stuff like mixed media (including old vinyl records) and cool kids books.
I could say romance novels jostled for position with items such as travel guides and political biographies but everything was grouped in an orderly manner, well marked and easy to access. I was surprised to see numerous large old dictionaries for sale, however, the eclectic poetry section caught my eye. Ooh, Bruce Dawe.
The whole area was spacious, clean and civilised. I expected a few gasps or cries of joy when The One, that perfect addition to a series or a special edition was found and held aloft. But no, basically the customers had their own agendas and moved calmly from book table to book table with carry bags, totally absorbed. By my estimation, I think you could expect to spend about two hours scanning and sifting through the books, more if you wanted to read pages here and there.
A corner of the UQ Alumni Book Fair 2019
Stacks of boxes
In the first photo (above) in the distance you can see a stack of book boxes, then in the second photo you see the book boxes up close. That opened box was about head-height and a volunteer told me those boxes had stretched along the walls, and every day they were emptied. Volunteers in purple t-shirts worked tirelessly the whole time I was there, unpacking, shelving, answering queries, and working at the payment points.
In the adjacent cafeteria (delicious homemade strawberry cake) I displayed some of the haul. You will spy a small red book in the left-hand photo which I have opened in the right-hand photo. The dust-jacket is missing and the previous owner had not liked naughty boy Pierre and scribbled on him in pencil but I love it. After a bit of searching, I found out this little Maurice Sendak volume is one of four, a Nutshell Library boxed set published in 1962 by HarperCollins.
Time to go
On display in the foyer of the Exhibition Hall were enlarged travel images and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the duck and ducklings. Overall, the synchronicity of UQ Alumni Friends, Members and volunteers created an exceptional event.
Walking back to the bus stop, weighed down with my treasure, the water bubbling through the pipes of this fountain made a relaxing sound so I stopped to admire it.
As I stood there, I thought about the massive amount of books on every subject imaginable which showed how far we have come, and how much of value we have left behind.
On arrival, drinks and nibbles were a nice surprise after travelling by bus along winding streets to UQ Alumni Rare Book Auction. From then onward it was non-stop action from 6pm until 9pm in Fryer Library.
Beforehand, I walked not the ‘hallowed halls’ but the beautiful arched sandstone walkways of the Great Court to the Fryer Library entrance. I caught the lift to the fourth floor where several people were mingling in the foyer beside the bidding registration table. On receiving Number 30, I hoped it was a lucky number.
Lucky number 30
I wandered in to the library, strolled through all the assembled black chairs, and entered the book viewing area. Lighting was subdued but it was easy to see the fascinating array of old books waiting patiently for my frenzied bidding. Not quite frenzied; but to jump ahead, I did offer a bid for a beautiful book, at least I think it is, which started and finished at the same amount, i.e. nobody out-bid me. Shame really because Smith, A. Croxton ‘Tail-Waggers’ Country Life, London, 1935, 147 pp has superbly rendered B&W mounted etchings by Malcolm Nicholson.
Lights, camera, action
After ascertaining if I could take photos, permission granted, I ended up being so entranced by the bidding that I didn’t take many shots. The introductions, welcome and Acknowledgement of Country were conducted (first by university librarian Caroline Williams originally from Nottingham UK) and at 6.45pm, auctioneer Jonathan Blocksidge stood behind the lectern. Game on!
Quickly, keep up
The bidding was fast and Mr Blocksidge kept the pace up, the heat on and the bids rising. There seemed to be some pretty serious collectors and possibly agents in the audience and at times the bids rose in increments so rapidly it was hard to keep track.
The highest bidder
There were absentee bidders and Lot 27 rose above the reserve price. As the night progressed – 146 lots were listed – bidding ‘wars’ occurred, particularly between two people behind me. The jousting for Lot 62, first edition of ‘Human Action: A Treatise on Economics’ made the audience applaud in appreciation. Same for Lot 66 ‘The Natural History of Man’ and Lot 86 James Cook’s ‘A Voyage Towards the South Pole’ which later culminated in Lot 105 Charles Kingsford-Smith’s personally signed copy of ‘Story of Southern Cross’ going for a huge amount.
Regrettably, the star of the show and expected highlight of the evening Lot 146 Gauss (de Brunswick) book ‘Recherches Arithmetiques’ did not meet the hefty reserve price.
The UQ team of staff and volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the evening, quiet yet ready to assist, and I think they did an excellent job. In fact, I have been reliably informed that all of the auction organisers I had contact with are UQ Alumni Friends, Members and volunteers. They were supported by the Fryer Library team (led by Manager, Simon Farley) who organised the chairs, allowed use of the library space, and provided the hospitality pre-event. A success well deserved!
I purchased and collected my precious old book of ‘Tail-Waggers’ and headed out into the cool, calm night.
Stick around for Part Three coming soon, my adventure with books, books and more books. Or better still, visit the UQ Alumni Book Fair yourself!
So excited, I’ve never been to a rare book auction. In fact, I have never been to an auction. It’s not something which cropped up in my everyday life and I must admit from what I’ve seen on television, it can get pretty fast and furious.
There’s always the horror of twitching an eyebrow and accidentally bidding for a hugely expensive volume of poetry, the only book of its kind in the world, which has to stay in a glass case. Well, not exactly, but you get the idea.
Last month, I attended a talk at University of Queensland’s Long Pocket Campus, home of the University of Queensland Press, or UQP as it is fondly known, the oldest independent publishing house in Australia with an illustrious stable of authors. I browsed some of the newly published books on offer, grabbed a coffee and sat with other attendees to absorb an informative talk from the Publishing Director, right down to choosing bookcovers.
We broke for a tasty lunch then listened to the ins-and-outs of publishing publicity, Selling The Brand. Another world really but invaluable knowledge for a writer. Our group participated in a Q&A quiz about books and authors. I threw up my hand and answered correctly, winning myself a new novel ‘The Geography of Friendship’ by Sally Piper which I will read and review.
DOWN A HILL AND UP A HILL . . .
Afterwards, we all trooped outside, down a hill and up a hill through the lush native gardens to where the Archives live. Amongst the thousands of new and used books donated every year, there are rare and valuable tomes, well-kept considering their age. On the shelving, behold every genre, every topic, every format imaginable. And nearly every item in the Junior Section held nostalgia for me. It is here I learned about the UQ Alumni Rare Book Auction 6pm on Friday 3 May 2019.
Photographed in the archives at University of Queensland, this magazine and many rare books will be auctioned in Fryer Library on Friday 3 May 2019 at 6pm.
BROWSE AND BUY – TAKE A TROLLEY – BOOK VOLUNTEERS WELCOME
I will have to leave you hanging, dear reader, because I will write Part Two when I’ve actually been to the Rare Book Auction in Fryer Library which itself is full of literary treasures. See you there?
This year bookshops across Australia are throwing a party and you are invited!
Here’s what their invitation says––
Love Your Bookshop Day is a chance to celebrate what makes your local bookshop great. Whether it’s for their amazing staff, their carefully curated range or specialisation, a book launch or a must-see events program, we encourage you to visit your favourite bookshop on Saturday 11th August 2018 and join in with the celebrations.
Don’t forget to use the tag #loveyourbookshopday and share why your bookshop is special using the hash tag #whyIlovemybookshop
Real life book shop owner Shaun Bythell tells of the humorous, exasperating and often crazy experiences he encounters working in The Book Shop, the largest second-hand bookshop in Scotland. Also, The Book Shop is situated in Wigtown, known as Scotland’s ‘National Book Town’. Bythell writes a compelling and amusing account of his daily life, from eccentric local characters to a decline in traditional ways of life where diversity is not always good news for rural farmers or booksellers. A good book for booklovers or would-be book dealers. Think I’ll stick to reading!
“For a few years I have given over the formal drawing room above the shop to an art class for one afternoon a week. It is taught by local artist Davy Brown and takes place every Tuesday. A dozen or so retired ladies make up the group. At this time of year the house is bitterly cold, so I left Norrie instructions to light the fire and put the space heater on for an hour before they were due to arrive, but he forgot. One of them almost needed to be resuscitated. I would happily let them use the space for free, but they kindly pay me enough to cover the heating costs and a bit more beside.”