Books are surprisingly expensive in Australia. A new paperback that retails on Amazon for $8.90 USD can cost as much as $16.99 AUD (which is about $12.56 USD). A fair that sold used books held considerable attraction for my daughter and me. We went the first time for the prices; we continue to go because the bookfairs support a worthy cause.
Lifeline is an Australian charity that has been saving lives across the country for more than 50 years. The bookfairs in Canberra raise most of the funding needed to keep the local crisis support line and other suicide prevention services going.
The most recent Lifeline book fair was held on 13-15 July in Tuggeranong, a suburb about a 25-minute drive from the center of Canberra. It was a cold day in an unheated venue, but hundreds of people stood in line early on the first day, waiting for the bookfair to open. Australians will queue neatly into snaking lines on their own without being asked. We Americans need stanchions and velvet cords to keep us politely in place. Australians, on the other hand, really know how to queue. People carried reusable shopping bags and wheeled in suitcases and small shopping carts, all for their planned purchases of many, many books.
Once inside, I thought how nice it was to hear conversations about books between people who loved them. They shared their finds with each other, saying things like: "Have you read this by him?" and "Isn't she marvelous?"
No matter what our interests are, we know we'll always find something at the Lifeline Bookfair. I can't wait until the next one.