I cannot believe it has taken me this long to write about my hobby BookCrossing. I have been BookCrossing since 2009 and this blog has been around for almost a year, so it is high time that I spend a few words explaining what BookCrossing is and why I like it so much.
As a BookCrosser, you register books on BookCrossing.com and then release them into the wild. The idea is that the finder of the book will then go to the website and make a journal entry telling you where and when he found the book. Hopefully the finder will read the book, tell you what he thought of it, and set it on its way to another reader again. As a BookCrosser, you have to have an account with BookCrossing.com (otherwise how could you track your books in the wild?), but you can have total anonymity. Wild releasing merely means that you leave a book somewhere where another person can find it. I have wild released books in trees on my way to work, in hospitals, on subway trains, in buses, in malls, in parks, etc. Lately a favourite release spot of mine has been the Book Exchange Box at our local train station. “Catches” are when someone journals to let you know that they found your book. Catch rates for wild releases are not very high, mine is about 12%, but there is definitely a thrill from getting a journal on a book you released years ago.
Apart from wild releasing books, there is a host of other things a BookCrosser can get involved in. On the website, there are several very busy forums ranging from people discussing books, hosting challenges where you have to release a certain type of book or a book in a certain way/place, and a place for people to offer their unwanted book as a Random Act of BookCrossing Kindness (RABCK). There are also sweepstakes to be won and there are usually some exchanges around the holidays (Christmas, Easter) where people send packages to one another.
And then there are the OBCZs or Official BookCrossing Zones, a dedicated spot where BookCrossers may leave their books. These can be in pubs, cafes, restaurants, and they are usually in a bookcase or on a bookshelf. There is usually a BookCrosser who manages the zone and makes sure the books are rotated often and replenished when necessary.
BookCrossers form a tight community. Apart from sending books as RABCKs, BookCrossers often send other small gifts to other BookCrossers, strangers with nothing else in common than BookCrossing. Especially during the Christmas season postmen and -women across the globe are being kept busy delivering RABCKs. BookCrossers also support each other through difficult times by way of encouraging messages, post cards or other outpourings of support.
And best of all, it is free. There is no fee to join BookCrossing, you just make an account, start registering some books and away you go. BookCrossing runs solely on very discreet advertising and the donations of members. It is a great place to be if you love books. The only downside is that instead of getting rid of books, you probably end up accumulating more as you start winning Sweepstakes, receive random books from other BookCrossers and when you decide to buy books just for BookCrossing.