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!


Teresa Stenson said...

This is a brilliant idea - like a message in a bottle - good luck DANTHOLOGY!

I've nominated you for one of them blog awards - you don't have to take it up - but if you want to I've devised a set of questions that are fookin marvellous so it will be an exciting process for both you and your readers.


Lindsay said...

I've registered books with Book Crossing (but never had any postings of them being found on the site. I'd not come across Green Metropolis so thanks for introducing me! I hope your book finders love your books.

Rachel Fenton said...

I'd not heard of Green Metropolis, either, so thanks for that. Keep us posted about who finds your books - I love stuff like this!

aw said...

I'd heard of bookcrossing but not thought of it being used in this way. I have left books at local hospitals for patients and visitors but never thought about listng them in this way.
I agree about Green Metropolis. Been with them about five years and have sold a few books but also tracked down a couple of really useful out-of-print books for research.

Dan Purdue said...

Teresa - I don't know if BookCrossing is the only site that does this, but it looks like it does it pretty well. Many thanks for the award, too - I enjoyed reading your answers and will do my best to come up with some decent responses to your questions.

Lindsay - I read on the FAQs page that they estimate only around 25% of books are actually registered as found. I guess people might not want to sign up to a website just to record the book they found, which is a shame as it would be interesting to track the books' journeys. Glad to introduce you to Green Metropolis, too.

Rachel - Cheers, will do. I think I get notified if anybody logs that the books have been found. I hope they've not just been thrown away, but who knows? Fingers crossed they end up somewhere exotic!

Ann - I've had some good experiences with Green Metropolis. It's good that the books can just sit there for sale on the site, unlike eBay where you have to keep re-listing them. It does seem a good source for older books, too.