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The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic had thwarted all efforts to hold the sale since 2019, and prompted the organisers to get creative with how the event could be safely held.
The result was the Regent Red Setting Book Sale, which runs until April 10 and allows up to 200 ticketed patrons to enter the theatre for a 90-minute session to rummage among the books.
Sale co-ordinator Alison Cunningham said the sale had started brilliantly yesterday morning.
"We’ve sold out for the first session, and I’ve got people with arms full of books going out to their car and coming back and doing it again, which is great."
Tickets were still available for most sessions and books were constantly being added to the tables. "It’s not best books first, it’s what comes out of the next box.
"The book you’re looking for could come out of the last box in the last hour of the last session."
With the long-term plan being to shift the sale to the Edgar Centre, this could be one of the last chances people had to experience a book sale under the theatre’s roof, she said.
With two bags full of books and puzzles in the first session yesterday, Sarah Carr said she had been looking forward to the return of the sale.
She was planning on visiting at least three times during the 10 days the sale was running, and was pleased to be able to stock up on her favourite books.
"I go for dead bodies, so murder mysteries.
"I have a shopping list of dead body authors that I enjoy, and if I find any of those it’s a win."
For Bill Keane, the Red setting meant the sale felt different from past years.
"It’s a bit unusual and kind of relearning where everything is, and, of course, if you’re into it, it will be multiple trips rather than one huge surge at the start."
He said he had tickets for five sessions, and might book more if he could fit them in around work.
He had started off "very sedate by my terms", picking up 10 books in the first session.
"Normally, I’m struggling with bags to get out."