I have a confession to make – as much as I love my Kindle, I still have a great love for books. While e-readers offer convenience and the ability to store a vast library one one device, there’s something about the way a book feels that makes it special. I think it’s a combination of all the sensory aspects – the off-white color of the pages, the smell of paper, glue and ink, the soft rustling noise as you flip though. It’s part of the reason why I’ll never give up Bookcrossing.
I’ve been dabbling in Bookcrossing for a while now, and I’m always surprised by how few people have heard of it. The hobby combines two of my favorite activities – reading and travel. It starts when you register a book over on the BC site. You’ll be assigned a unique ID number that you write somewhere in or on the book, along with a note that tells people to enter the ID number on the site. You read the book, write a brief journal entry about it, then leave it in a public place for someone else to find. In theory, they will repeat the process. You’ll receive an e-mail each time someone enters your book’s ID on the site, so you can watch your book travel around town or around the world.
Admittedly, most of my books haven’t made it that far, and a majority have never been re-entered on the site. That’s not why I Bookcross, though. Instead, I focus on one of the site’s taglines, which is, “Make the Whole World a Library.” I like that idea, especially in a day and age when there’s so much debate about cutting budgets for municipal libraries. It’s a troubling trend, and it’s one that may not stop any time soon. I know that leaving books around is a small thing that won’t single-handedly solve problems like access and improving literacy, but I do think that it has a role to play. At minimum, Bookcrossing can provide a pleasant surprise for the person that finds your book. If done right, it may be able to fill a few “book gaps” in your community. It certainly would in mine – I live in a rural area that is occasionally visited by a bookmobile, but doesn’t have a library of its own. I would love to start an Official Bookcrossing Zone here where people can pick up and drop off books (more info here), but I’ve already been turned down by one shop owner. I have a couple of other places in mind, and I’m hoping that they’ll be a bit more receptive. Stay tuned.