Lifeline Bookfests – My Twice a Year Trek

18 Jan

My bookshelves are really groaning today. I’ve just brought home my latest haul of books from the Lifeline Bookfest.


The bookfest is a booklover’s dream – rows and rows of secondhand books, grouped by subjects, in varying conditions and at rock bottom prices.


Some people select a few, some an armful, some a bag or two full and others hire a trolley …you’re thinking I hire a trolley don’t you?  Nope.  I’m a red and blue stripped bag hauler.


For those of you who have the opportunity to get to one of these sales, let me give you my Bookfest trip tips (for my venue anyway).  I’ve been going twice a year to these sales for 15 years and I’ve learned a few things the hard way.First and possibly most importantly, never walk or catch a bus or train to these sales unless you only plan on buying a armful of books.   I know this from experience.  For the first few years I used to have to catch the train to the sales and it drastically limited how many books I could bring home.  I used to have to pay my little sister and her friends to come with me to help me lug my books home.    Thankfully the labour was cheap…a packet of lollies was all it required.   It’s best if you can drive to the venue and park as close as possible.  You’ll want to make several trips to the car to off load your parcels throughout the day.

The next most important tip is how to prepare for the day.  Do not wear white!  If you have allergies to dust, dose up on Clarityne or similar.  Bring a packet of wet wipes to wipe your hands on.  Your hands will be black before long.  For the same reason, you’ll want to select wrapped lollies or snacks to keep your energy up while book hunting.  Bring something to cart your book selections in also.  I bring red and blue stripey bags as they are big and sturdy enough to hold a lot of books and the handle is just the right height for me to hold and drag the bag alongside of me.   Aside from this all you need is your purse.  Cards are now readily accepted at the sale so you don’t even need cash.

Some people may want to bring lunch to cut down costs.  I would suggest that you leave it in the car if at all possible until you need it.  Carting extra weight in your bag is going to cause you some grief by the end of the day.  Personally we choose to buy our lunch at the cafeteria at our venue.  Finding a seat can be nearly impossible though, so be prepared to plop yourself on the ground to enjoy your lunch.  The ground is often our preference as it means we can sort through our books once we’ve finished.   Rest assured you won’t be the only people on the floor.  There’s plenty of space and everyone does the same thing.

Once you’re at the sale (it’s free to enter the sale by the way) you’ll discover that there are three separate rooms, categorised according to quality: the “High Quality” section, the “Priced Section” and the “Unpriced Section”.    You’ll find the best quality books in the “High Quality” section and the oldest more battered books in the “Unpriced” section.  Of course the prices vary dramatically from section to section too.  (You’ll find the prices written inside the book on the first page, except in the unpriced section where the prices are noted on signs).   Which section you want to start in or whether you want to visit only one or two sections is really just a personal preference.  In the past I’ve mostly skipped the “Unpriced section” but I do find it a valuable area if I’m looking for an older title.  I often find great children’s novels there as I’m not terribly impressed with modern titles.

I often start in the “High Quality” section but am very select about what I look for in this area.  These prices quickly add up so beware.   I look for specific newer titles or topics here.  (You can also find collector editions here if that’s your thing.)  I treat this area more like a bookstore than a book hunting area.  The prices are just too expensive (for secondhand books) to bring home all the good books you might find in this section.  Alternatively you could wait for the last day of the sale when they reduce the price of these books by a percentage (I can’t remember if it was 50% or 25% off on the last day).

The “Priced Section” is my book hunting section and I do mean hunting.  After a few thousand people have looked through the books on the tables they are in quite a state.  They do have volunteers working on the tables to restore order but still be prepared to literally dig through piles.  Sometimes you’ll find the best books hidden under a pile that no one else wanted to tackle.


My hunting technique is to put any book that captures my interest into my bag and leave all the scrutiny until later.  Being in my bag doesn’t mean that I’ll buy it.  It means it’ll be considered during my culling process.  Once the bag is too heavy to shift or I’ve completed the section I find a spot on the floor and look carefully through the books.   I look to see if the book is one that really does interest me, I check for damage that would make the book unreadable and I also check (particularly for textbooks and activities) that the book hasn’t already been written in.  If you find doubles of the same title it pays to check the prices of both books.  Often you’ll find that the prices are different.  If there’s no difference in the quality you can select the cheaper book.   Once I’ve finished I do a rough estimate of the cost of the pile of books and decide whether I need to cull the books any further.  Often I do.   It’s best to set a budget for your book buying and stick to it as there are just so many wonderful titles that you’ll want to bring them all home.

Here’s the haul that I bought home this year.  It cost me $120.  (Two piles of the novels you can see at the back left are for Liam’s classroom. )  Oh and I can’t say that this will be all.  The urge to return for the last day sales is great (You get a percentage off in the High Quality section and you can fill a plastic bag for $10 in the Priced Section and $5 in the Unpriced Section).


Of course, once you’ve got the books home there’s still more work to do.  The books need a wet wipe over before I find homes on the shelves for them.


The books aren’t just a little dusty they are absolutely filthy!


Here’s a quick look at some of my favourite new selections.  These are some Col Stringer books and tapes that I found.  You can check out his website if you are unfamiliar with him.


These are several history titles that will come in handy for our next rotation of Ancient History.


These are my favourite finds.  Several space books, two of which were on online bookstore wishlists for later purchases.


I ummed and ahhhed about this title.  I know it will come in handy later on but I wasn’t sure I wanted to bother with it just yet.  In the end I was glad that I did bring it home.


These are the boys’ favourite titles.  They love Berenstein Bears, Franklin, Magic School Bus, Thomas and anything to do with vehicles.


With all these new books in the house, it wouldn’t be hard to guess how we have spent our day so far….



Now to find shelf space to house these new books…that is the challenge!

(You can find more Lifeline Bookfest details at their website: )

1 Comment

Posted by on January 18, 2009 in My Library


One response to “Lifeline Bookfests – My Twice a Year Trek


    July 15, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Jus wonderful lifeline blog entries. My husband and me have just discovered lifeline book sales and we love it. Great going!


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