I'm a freelance writer living on Sydney's north shore. I like tea, books and pop music. If I can combine these into a single activity I'm a happy man.
In a world obsessed with Kindles, iPads, Kobus and apps there is nothing more refreshing than a good old book fair. Maybe it's just me, but there's something both wildly exciting and hypnotically calming about a room full of books orderly arranged on trestle tables. Perhaps it's the smell, or the sense of so much knowledge confined in one space just waiting for you to devour. Or it could be, as the world isn't all Zen and flowers, the thrill/disgust of finding a pristine copy of that out-of-print book you downloaded to your Kindle for $10 perkily sitting there for $2.
Photo by brewbooks via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Sydney has always done book fairs very well and whilst nothing comes close to matching the UNSW and University of Sydney's behemoth book fairs that straddle the beginning and end of winter, the 2MBS Book Fairs do an excellent job of keeping the book addict going in between. And even better, they happen five times a year, in Crows Nest, Balmain and Leichhardt.
This Easter, it is Balmain's turn and the fair will be held in the Balmain Town Hall between 5-15 April. Whilst books are the main attraction, there is also a large collection of CDs, DVDs, prints, magazines and sheet music for sale. There is something for everyone in the wide selection of books and the fair always has a better than expected selection of rare and antique books. At the last fair in February, the non-fiction was far superior to the fiction with a surprising range of out-of-print and less traditional items, something that should be repeated at Balmain. There will also be 500 art, photography, fashion and architecture books. Feel free to take the kids as there will be a large selection of kids books and movies.
The quality of the books is generally excellent (no tat here) and it isn't too difficult to find books in very good to near mint condition. The prices are good, however if you are a seasoned book fairer don't expect the sort of bargain prices you see at the university fairs; you will however pay far less than at a second hand bookshop, especially for rarer items.
The book fair runs over 10 days and is a perfect place to while away a few hours over the Easter break. Best of all, the fair helps support 2MBS, Sydney's very first FM radio station which is run mainly by volunteers. Go on, throw down that iPad and pick up a book!
The 2MBS Book & CD Fair will be held at Balmain Town Hall, 370 Darling Street Balmain from 5th-15th April. Opening night on the 5th is from 6pm-10pm, and then 9am-6pm every day. For more information or to donate books, see the website: www.2mbs.com/content_common/pg-book-and-cd-fair.seo
There is limited on street parking at Balmain Town Hall and in surrounding streets. Buses 432, 433, 441, 442 and 445 stop outside. Balmain East ferry terminal connects with both Circular Quay and Darling Harbour and is approximately two kilometres away (25 minute walk).