CHOCKERS: Lester Platts and Chris Ryland, Coffs Harbour South Rotary preparing for Bookfest April 1-8.
CHOCKERS: Lester Platts and Chris Ryland, Coffs Harbour South Rotary preparing for Bookfest April 1-8. Rachel Vercoe

Sizzling Bookfest bargains

THE air is thick with heat. Two ceiling fans are whirring at full speed without a chance of making a difference.

The conditions are stifling.

In a corrugated iron shed attached to a stable block at the back of Coffs Harbour Showground two men dripping in sweat are sorting through 44 pallets of pre-loved, donated books.

This is the side of the Coffs Harbour South Rotary Bookfest you don't get to see. Hundreds of hours of volunteer work, collecting, sorting, boxing and moving books in preparation for the popular annual fundraiser.

"It's so hot in the shed today I can just about wring my shorts out," Lester Platts said.

Lester has a passion for books. He is a Rotarian, a driving force behind Bookfest and spends around 30 unpaid hours a week in this shed.

"We have around 80,000 books donated for this year's Bookfest and it all has to be sorted, boxed and organised," he said.

"We actually have so many books we're asking people to stop donating, the shed is packed to the top, we have no more space, we have had a wonderful response from the public."

Lester is often joined in the shed by fellow Rotarian Peter Rheinberger, and this week treasurer Chris Ryland also lent a hand.

"Lester and Peter do an amazing job," Chris said.

"It's a lot of work and these guys are terrific. Also a big thank-you to the community for their generous donations but please stop donating for this year's Bookfest, we have enough. Except for westerns and large print books, we can never get enough of those, they sell like hot cakes."

This year's Bookfest will feature a large collection of children's books at 50c each and for lovers of vinyl there will be plenty of LP records to rummage through.

Of course all the usual suspects will be on the tables including fiction, non-fiction, reference, special interest magazines and "millions of romance novels" at 10c each.

Some of the books are quite collectable including a 1831 leather-bound edition of Robinson Crusoe.

"We never know what we'll find when we open donated boxes," Les said.

"But one thing is for sure, all the money goes to Coffs Harbour South Rotary projects that benefit our community."

BOOKFEST: April 1-8, held at Coffs Harbour Showground.

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