Let’s try that again

Ok, here goes again. Hopefully this time I’ll manage to hit the right keys and not send this entry off into the ether somewhere.

MrPloppy and I went down to Timaru with lytteltonwitch on Saturday for a meetup with the Timaru bookcrossers (well, Timaru bookcrosserThe-Organist is the only active bookcrosser in Timaru at the moment, which is why we’d planned this trip down to visit him – the fact that the local Rotary club were having a booksale was purely a coincidence, honest!). We had fantastic weather (a nice change after a miserable week of rain) and it was a pretty quick trip down (for us – we only stopped once to release books; at Rakaia, where I left The Iron Chain by Steve Cockayne) and got to Timaru by 11, so we had time to have a quick look at the booksale before the meetup. Of course, Timaru has the most confusing road layout of any town I know, so finding the main street (where the sale was) took us a while, but after circling the town a few times we eventually got there.

The theme of confusion extended into the booksale, where they had a… um… unique pricing system. At every other charity booksale I’ve been to, they’ve either had books individually priced, or there’s been a colour-coding system (e.g. books with a yellow sticker $1, books with a red sticker $5…), or there’s just a set price per book (e.g. paperbacks 50c, hardbacks $3). Or sometimes there’s a slightly more complex system (like at the Theatre Royal booksale in Christchurch, where the books in the main auditorium are a set price, and the books on the stage are individually priced, so you have to pay for the books you’ve selected from one area before you enter the other), but the feature they’ve all had in common is that when you pick up a book, you know what you’ll be paying for it. Not in Timaru. Their system consisted of signs on the walls saying “Hardbacks $1-$4, Paperbacks up to $4”, with absolutely no indication on the books as to which end of the pricing scale they’d fall under. From what we observed when we paid for our books (and from what we heard from others who’d been to the sale), the people at the checkout just decided arbitrarily what to charge you when you went to pay, and how they decided the price seemed to depend on which checkout you went to (there were several). One person said he’d been charged according to the thickness of the books, another according to their condition, and someone said the checkout person had actually said of one book “Ooh, I’ve read that book, it’s really good. I’d better charge you $4 for it.”

It didn’t make for a very satisfying booksale experience, anyway. Normally when I go to a booksale, I’m looking out for two categories of books: ones I actually want to read, and ones that would be good for bookcrossing (e.g. popular books, books with eye-catching covers, potential themed releases). The latter I only buy if they’re really cheap ($1 is usually my absolute upper limit), but the former I’ll pay a lot more for. But at this booksale, because I couldn’t tell what any book would cost me, I didn’t want to buy too many in case everything I’d picked out was at the $4 end of the scale. So despite seeing loads of books that would be perfect for bookcrossing, I ended up only buying ones I wanted to read, because I didn’t want to risk paying too much for a book I’d just be releasing. So between MrPloppy and I we only ended up with 18 books (for us, that’s a very small book purchase!), which cost us $30 (and I couldn’t work out how our checkout person decided on the price – he picked up a few of the books we’d selected and glanced at the covers, then for the rest seemed to be just judging the height of the pile or something, and said “That lot will be $30” in a manner that suggested he’d selected the figure totally at random).

After having our fill of the booksale (which didn’t take very long, so frustrated were we about the prices) we headed over to Caroline Bay, where we were meeting The-Organist for lunch at Coast, a bar overlooking the bay. We ended up with quite a crowd, because otakuu had come up from Waimate, and Cathietay and Daveytay had been staying in Geraldine with holiday and her husband, so when they heard we were meeting up after the booksale they all decided to join us too. So we actually had more Christchurch people at the Timaru meetup than we’ve been getting at Christchurch meetups lately! (Cathietay and Daveytay promised faithfully to try and make it to more meetups when they get back to Christchurch.) Books were piled high on the table, but I was restrained and only brought one home with me, Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah. Most of the books I’d brought down with me were quickly snatched up (The Alienist by Caleb Carr, The Body Artist by Don DeLillo, and The Dead of the Night by John Marsden), and the two that weren’t (McNally’s Trial by Lawrence Sanders and Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown) I left behind on the table (and I think the waitress grabbed them as we were leaving – I heard one of the others behind me telling her that yes, they were free books, and yes she could take them). The meetup was cut a little short by The-Organist being called away to drive the ambulance (one of his many jobs – he seems to be an incredibly busy person!), but we had a great time.

On the way back to Christchurch that afternoon we had a few more stops than we had on the way down – we stopped at Temuka for afternoon tea (and to release a few more books, of course – The Hobo Woods by Eric Helm), and took a detour in Ashburton to find a tennis courts where I could finally release Wimbledon 2000 by Iain Johnstone, a themed release I’d had planned for the Dunedin convention but hadn’t found the opportunity to release after all.

The rain returned on Sunday, but that was ok because I was stuck inside anyway, frantically trying to write my Spanish composition (which was due in yesterday). It was only 350 words, but that’s a lot to write in another language, so it took me most of the day. Normally I wouldn’t have left it to the last minute like that to write, but we only got the topic on Monday, and because we had a major test on Friday, all my spare time during the week had been devoted to studying for that (trying to make up for the lack of study time I’d had while the Outlaws were here). I didn’t do a fantastic job on it, I don’t think, but at least I got it done, and handed in, so I can relax for a bit now (well, until the next one, which is due in a couple of weeks, and then there’s our orals the week after, and the final exam a few weeks after that… whose stupid idea was it to do another degree???).

I had a nice catch this morning: To Hell in a Handcart by Richard Littlejohn, which I left in the dentist’s waiting room a few months ago. MrPloppy has to go back again next month, so now that I know it’s a good spot for catches I’ll definitely have to search out a copy of Jaws to release 🙂

Currently reading: The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas (which has been rather slow going, and I keep getting distracted by reading other things, but I’m slowly getting through it)