Welcome to 2Summers blog post #200! Thanks for reading.
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New books are expensive in South Africa. Walk into an average retail bookstore and an average paperback will set you back R150-R200 ($20-$26). Hardbacks and new releases cost much more.
So when I heard that Friends of Johannesburg Public Libraries was putting on a huge sale of used books at the Mark’s Park Sports Club, just around the corner from Melville, I decided to check it out.
The book sale began this morning at 9:00 a.m. I arrived a few minutes before 10:00, and drove around for 10 minutes before finding a parking space.
I was astonished at what I found inside.
The whole city was there.
I’m told that the crowd at 10:00 a.m. paled in comparison to the crowd when the sale opened at 9:00. One guy described the opening as a “rugby scrum”, consisting mainly of book dealers trying to get their hands on the best collectibles.
Most of the paperbacks at the sale were priced at R10 ($1.50), and the majority of the hardbacks were R20. Some of the special books cost more, but I didn’t see any books priced higher than R100.
Books books books books.
I love to read, but I must confess that I’ve done a lot less of it since moving to Joburg. I can’t seem to find time anymore, now that I no longer have a daily two-hour commute. These days, it seems like all my free time is eaten up by blogging and reading other blogs. No offense to my fellow bloggers, but I don’t consider reading blogs to be “real” reading.
Today’s sale has motivated me to change. I spent R90 (less than $12) on three books from the Africana section, including a fascinating-looking volume called Tales From the Cape Malay Quarter, by I.D. Du Plessis. I’ve been wanting to learn more about South Africa’s Cape Malay history ever since I visited Bo-Kaap in Cape Town last year. Here is my chance.
My favorite new (old) book. It has beautiful illustrations and it’s hand-signed by the author. It cost R50 (about $6.50).
This book sale made me happy. iPads and Kindles are taking over the world, but people still love books. Especially people in Joburg.
This lady couldn’t even wait to get home. She plopped down right outside the door of the club and started reading.
The longer I live in Joburg, the more I grow to respect old things. I used to want everything in my life to be new. But now I realize that older is often better.
Note: This observation does not apply to the old pipes in the Lucky 5 Star, which are currently leaking smelly brown water on my kitchen counter. But it does apply to old books.