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Doug Lovell (70) will be on hand tomorrow for the sale, and for the 30th next year.
But after that he will be putting his feet up in a new home in Wanaka.
Mr Lovell started the annual theatre fund-raiser 29 years ago with two truckloads of sheet music donated by a retailer and with some books from the public.
The first sale raised $13,000.
This year, the sale will contain more than 200,000 books and it and a separate music sale should produce $100,000 to help pay for the theatre's new stage.
Mr Lovell said he would miss most the team of 200 volunteers who collected, sorted and priced books during the eight-month lead-up to the sale.
For some, the sale "was almost a way of life", he said.
The organisation had become so slick that this year everything was ready 48 hours before the sale started.
Mr Lovell said he was often "gobsmacked" by the quality of books donated.
To demonstrate, he sorted through a carton containing a 19th-century New Zealand gardening book, an early tourist photo souvenir booklet about Queenstown and a couple of Rupert Bear annuals that have never felt the smudge of an infant's hands.
The mezzanine floor is the place for the more valuable books.
The rest cover the stage and line the aisles and sell for $1.
Mr Lovell said there was always the possibility of finding a bargain and recalled a lucky buyer spending 50c on The Ascent of Everest, by John Hunt - signed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing - going on to sell it on the internet for $1200.
The sale, the biggest second-hand book sale in the country, opens at noon tomorrow.