Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Releasing Books into the Wild! Bookcrossing.com

Over the years, I have given away tons of books - to library book sales, friends, and our library's take-a-book/leave-a-book shelf. But to be able to hear back as the book travels the world; to be able to read from others what they thought of the book -- What a fascinating treat! BookCrossing.com is a free internet project sponsored by a software company. It's also a social experiment very much in the mood of the Web Ethos. Have you ever, like me, wished you could release a helium baloon or a bottle with a note -- and wait to hear from a stranger who found the note? This is like that, but better. You register yourself and a book on the website. Put a note in the book (they sell cool bookplates, as illustrated above, but you can just write in the book or on a sticker). And leave the book somewhere public. If you worry about weather, put the book in a ziplock bag.

Sometime, someday, you will get an e-mail, mediated by the Bookcrossing website so your e-mail remains secret. You'll be notified that somebody picked up that book and has registered it. They can leave a note on the website commenting on the book and what it meant to them. You can watch as the book is released again, perhaps traveling around the world.

Ah, this is awesome! Thank you, BookCrossing, from a librarian and booklover! Their motto: "Reinventing moveable type."


Jacqueline Cantwell said...

I love this too. It is wonderfully poetic; it combines randomness and patience. I like how it uses the Internet to promote uncertainty.

Because, besides the people I know, who else in the world reads Tom Raworth?

Betsy McKenzie said...

Dear Jacqueline,
What a great point you make! It sends books out to be read by people who would otherwise never stumble across them. I never heard of Raworth. Now, I'll look for titles by him. I like trying new authors and types of writing. When I visit my public library, I try to pick one new author along with the tried-and-true. Sometimes, they are duds, and sometimes it's a wonderful surprise! I also read book reviews to find new authors and types of literature. But there can be nothing more random than the "found book!" It's always like trick or treat.