Bookcrossing — Release your books!

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Bookcrossing — Release your books!

bookcrossing_logoBack in 2003, I was obliviously hustling through Madison Square Park, rushing from someplace unimportant to someplace equally unimportant, when my eye chanced upon a practically brand-new copy of Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man just sitting there naked and alone on a park bench. Thing is, I had been dying to read that very novel for a few months, ever since seeing the first of the fabulous William Powell/Myrna Loy vehicles. And there it was, placed in my path (or very nearly) by book angels or fate or the tempting demons who hound my every step.

I skidded to a halt and glanced around. Had someone merely gotten up to can her garbage? To shoo a pigeon? To collar his dog? To bag up her child?* But no, there was no one around but the usual collection of odd jobs talking to themselves and the trees.

So I nabbed the book, cried out, “Ha HA!” and hurried away, feeling it was a harbinger of great things to come.

Later, I opened the book and discovered a BookCrossing.com label. I’d never before heard of this strange, passionate group who practice a kind of reading socialism, but here’s the gist of what each registered member does: She reads a book, decides she doesn’t need to own it forever and ever, so registers it on the site, prints out a label with that book’s ID number, and sticks the label in or on the book. Then she leaves the book somewhere conspicuous for a stranger to find. That stranger then logs the book in on the site, maybe adds a note or two about it, then releases the book again somewhere else. Afterward, you can track your books as they make their weird peregrinations around the country and the world.

In my case, I released my copy of The Thin Man in a cafe in San Diego. Someone picked it up there and took it to San Francisco, then gave it to a friend on her way to Los Angeles, where it has remained these past six years. Have been meaning to put more books out into the wild, but forgot about this site in the hurly-burly of the everyday. Still, perhaps I’ll release a few books in Chicago when I am there this weekend.

Does anyone else use Bookcrossings? What’s the farthest your books have traveled?

*I’m clearly still puzzling out this whole childcare thing.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Upstart Crow and Jo Treggiari, Dorothy Dreyer. Dorothy Dreyer said: Make the world a library! RT @UpstartCrowLit Now on the Upstart Crow blog: Bookcrossing — Release your books! (http://tinyurl.com/y8ccg9q) […]

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  2. I dabbled with BC a few years ago and even released a copy of my book, which traveled from Austin to Houston and then went off the grid five years ago. Here’s the tracking page if you’re interested (Book Crossing Journal) Like you, I had forgotten all about it, but your post reminds me to play with BC some more.

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  3. What an interesting idea…and sparking all kinds of imagined book adventures. Thanks fo sharing this.

    Emily

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  4. That is the coolest idea – I’ll have to check it out. My books often travel to North Carolina and Florida (from Colorado) as I have siblings/parents there but now I want my books to reach more exotic destinations.

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  5. No one ever entered any updates about the books I released. Sigh!

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  6. Wow! I never knew about this, sounds very cool. I giggled at you looking for someone bagging their child! I’ll have to check this out and release a few of mine I like to have around, but probably won’t be reading any time soon. So much to do, so little time. But how thrilling to think you can try and share the same experience you had when pulled into someone’s story with a complete stranger and watch it travel.

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  7. I left a copy of Skellig in a cafe in Edinburgh a few years ago and followed it around Europe for the next year before losing track. But I love the idea of gorilla literacy and encouraging strangers to read some of my favorite books. My problem is that I have a hard time parting with stories I love but maybe it’s time to let go a little and try a few around San Francisco.

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  8. I love book angels! I didn’t know there was a book. I shall have to investigate my local Barnes and Noble very soon. O:)

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  9. What fun. I’d never heard of this.

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  10. . . . BC sounds great, as does their website . . . but don’t forget “off-line” sites such as homeless shelters and the like.

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  11. Really cool idea considering i have 9 shopping bags full of books sitting in my garage.

    My kids are too old to bag up, but if they are behaving like they need a dog collar I can still shoo them away like the pigeons.

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  12. Whoa, hold up here. They share books instead of buying new ones and sending me royalties?

    Bunch of damn Commies.

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  13. Book Angels tracking you by internet. Like geocaching for the literary. Awesome.

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  14. . . . BOOK ANGELS . . . beautiful (initiative) . . . someone should fly with that one!

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  15. Kind of like Flat Stanley 🙂 I’ve never heard of this before – I’m going to check into it though!

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  16. I’ve actually been thinking about trying BookCrossing for quite come time. It’s kind of a literary geocaching (something else I’ve always wanted to try). I’ve not been so lucky as to come across a BookCrossing book though. But perhaps I’ll set a book free to be found as a New Years resolution.

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  17. Now I am really mad I didn’t register on time for that SCBWI event. But maybe I will search for random books at all the park benches and sites in Chicago, just to torture myself.

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  18. I like Book Crossing very much and frankly don’t mind if none of my books get officially logged and tracked. I like to imagine that they’re squashed in the backpacks of people hitchhiking across Tibet or sitting on the desk of someone forcing herself to finish her math homework before reading another chapter or loitering on the A train ready to ease someone’s long commute to the uptown port authority.

    I suspect where they really are might be less interesting so I’m sticking with my version.

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