Bookcrossing

BookCrossing also: BC, BCing or BXing

This is quite a new hobby and it's free and also eco-friendly! It's the practice of leaving a book, that you enjoyed reading, in a public place for others to pick up and enjoy reading too. Then that person does the same and so the book is passed on and on. It's like a mixture of treasure hunt and participating in a global library.

The term “BookCrossing” was started in 2001 by Ron Hornbaker. He conceived the idea and then started a website which took off very quickly and became popular worldwide. By 2004 the word “BookCrossing” was even included in the Oxford English Dictionary.

The idea is that if you have a book to share; you register yourself on the website. Then other members go “hunting” and look on the website at the list of books that have recently been left somewhere or “released”. They go to the place the book was left to “catch” it. If it's still there and they find it they enter its identification number on the website to register the catch and find out where and who it came from.

What's also quite fun is that you can look on the website to keep a track of where your book is passing from person to person and travelling around; maybe it even travels to other countries.

There are different ways of passing on your book. Some people leave it as a “wild release” in a café, train station, hotel room, on a shelf at a gym etc. Or you can leave it an Official Crossing Zone or register your own Crossing Zone if you have a favourite Laundromat or coffee shop where you know it's a perfect place for leaving books that will be cherished. Some people do direct swaps with other BookCrossing members. Other people have started little clubs or groups where they pass a book all the way round its members.

There are also real-life clubs and internet club forums and discussions on people's favourite characters and plotlines in their book. It's a fun way of sharing your passion for a book and being able to discuss details of what you did or did not like and theories of any mysteries or what happened to the characters after the book ended etc.

As you can imagine sometimes there is a little controversy and the odd urban myth about people leaving books at airports and setting off a security alert that your book may be a bomb. So this can be a further challenge for modern life and some care must be taken. A few authors were worried that their book sales may go down but I would imagine that actually BookCrossing stimulates a general interest in books to grow and that sales are not going to dramatically slash. What do you think? Let us know your thoughts and experiences if you try this new hobby.

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