Wednesday 12 February 2014

Gone BookCrossin'

BookCrossing is an international scheme to encourage people to share books with strangers. It's an interesting idea, so I thought I'd give it a go, by releasing "into the wild" a couple of copies of my short story collection.

In terms of my reading habits, I seem to be fairly unusual amongst my fellow bookworms in that the majority of the books on my shelf are ones I haven't read. I mainly buy paperbacks, and once I've read them I don't usually feel a particularly strong urge to hang on to them. If I've really enjoyed a book and think I'm likely to re-read it, I'll quite often track down a hardback copy (almost always second hand) as a 'keeper', but most of the time I like to pass them on, either by giving to a friend who I think will enjoy them, donating to charity, or selling through a site like Green Metropolis.

BookCrossing is another way of passing books around. You can give books you've finished with to friends and family, but the main aim of the scheme appears to be to encourage people to send books indirectly to strangers, by leaving them on trains, in cafes, in doctors' waiting rooms and on park benches (weather permitting, of course). Turn the world into a library, they say. Which sounds like a nice idea.

I have a few printed copies of my collection at home. Although I'd dearly love for some wonderful person to buy them from me, I suspect that would take more promotional effort than I have time for at the moment. So I thought I'd put a couple of them to work, heading out to find their way in the world and possibly winning over a few more readers as they go. I registered with the site, took out two BCIDs (the unique numbers used to track the books) and printed up some stickers for the front cover and first page of each copy. Then it was a matter of finding somewhere in my hometown of Leamington Spa suitable for their "release". I chose a busy coffee shop in the centre of town and one of my favourite pubs.

The BookCrossing concept obviously relies heavily on serendipity, in that the person who finds the book will be somebody interested in reading it rather than a jaded coffee shop employee who'll throw it away or - perhaps worse - lock it up in a lost property cupboard, never to be seen again. Also, the website only really comes into its own if people can be bothered to register a "found" book, otherwise nobody gets to see the journey.

I hope fortune smiles upon my books and whoever ends up picking them up will decide to give them a go. If you're one of those somebodies, I hope you enjoy the stories. And please don't forget to pass them on afterwards!