Bookfest brings out the bargain-hunters and boffins

Some things in life are just impossible: travelling faster than the speed of light, sleeping comfortably in economy class – and walking out of the Lifeline Bookfest without a purchase.

"I've never seen it happen," says Lifeline and UnitingCare's Anna Masci, laughing.

This year's 24th annual Bookfest is the largest and longest yet, running for 10 days from January 19 to 28 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

"People just love it, you see them with books overflowing from shopping trolleys – I don't know where they put them all when they get home," Ms Masci says.

Lifeline hopes to attract 150,000 bargain-hunters through the doors and has a fundraising goal of $1 million. The money will help fund Lifeline's 24-hour crisis line, 13 11 14, and support disaster recovery and disability services.

Ms Masci says the charity has close to 2 million donated items up for sale, including DVDs and vinyl records, along with books.

They're divided into three sections: unpriced, priced and high-quality, with prices ranging from $7 to $15 or more for the high-quality section.

"Our most expensive and rare book this time is Australia's Greatest Rock Art by Grahame Walsh," Ms Masci says.

"It was commissioned for the Bicentennial in 1988, and it was a comprehensive book about Aboriginal rock art around the country," she said.

"At the moment you can buy it online for $2250, or you can come to the Bookfest and get it for $900."

Aaron Doyle from Upper Mount Gravatt is a keen Bookfester.

"Last year I grabbed a 1950s Queensland guide to bush dancing," says the 29-year-old.

"There's all sorts of weird stuff you don't find anywhere else."

Mr Doyle says he always keeps a look-out in the fantasy and science fiction sections, as well as in biographies and humour.

His best-ever find was a 1908 copy of Charles Darwin's Journey of the Beagle.

"I studied environmental science and biology at uni, so that was of real interest to me. You don't find that sort of thing every day," he said.

Lifeline Bookfest tips:

  • Consider getting there early, and allow yourself plenty of time.
  • Bring carry bags or a trolley bag to get your purchases home.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Visit multiple times to take advantage of refreshed stock.

The story Bookfest brings out the bargain-hunters and boffins first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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