In April, 2001, Ron Hornbaker and friends launched a website, BookCrossing, designed as a social media platform for book lovers. Not only was it intended to facilitate endless discussions about books, it was also expected to serve as a lending library. Now, almost 11 years later, with over one million current members and about nine million registered books in 132 countries, BookCrossing can only be considered a success.
How does it work?
Label. Become a member (for free). Register your book to receive a unique BookCrossing I.D. number. Then, download a label to print out or purchase labels online to attach to the inside of your book.
Share. Give your book away in a controlled release i.e. either to a friend or at an Official BookCrossing Zone (OBCZ) or release it into the wild by leaving it in a public place i.e. a bus stop bench, a coffee shop table, etc.
Follow. When your book is caught, the label will encourage the catcher to report the book’s capture by entering the BCID on the website. This allows you to track your book’s journey from reader to reader and, in some cases, from country to country.
The website is filled with ‘how to’ information, member lists, book lists, discussion forums, newsletters, stats, convention info (on five continents, no less) and bios and photos of the people behind it all.
Canada is in the top ten of participating countries around the world with over 47,000 registered BookCrossers. Saskatchewan, my home province, surprised me with 1400 members and, although Saskatoon and Regina host the majority of them, small rural communities everywhere are represented, too.
As I write this, my curiosity is beginning to get the better of me. I just may have to join, if only to release a book into the wild and track its travels. How about you? Tempted?
Photo credit (top): via artspecialday.com.