So what is bookcrossing anyway, you might be wondering? The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines bookcrossing as "the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.” But as a short search of the site soon showed me, actually there is a lot more to bookcrossing than just this. The site also provides the forum for those a little shy of leaving their beloved books in public places to share books with others through either direct swaps, known as RABCKs (Random Acts of Book Crossing Kindness) or through bookrings or bookrays – a kind of extended, travelling bookclub where one book travels from one person to the next, all over the world.
The best thing about bookcrossing for me is the tracking aspect of it - every book is tracked through the website. A book that has been registered on the website is given a bookcrossing ID number (BCID) which is written in the front cover of the book. The person releasing the book then makes a journal entry about the book, saying what they thought of it, what their plans are for it and give it a rating out of 10. The book is then released, either in the “wild” - a public place such as a cafe, second-hand bookstore or park bench, or through a “controlled release” as a RABCK or as a bookring or ray. When the book is found or the intended recipient receives it, the releaser is notified by email when they make a journal entry – and so the record continues!
Within minutes I was seriously hooked. Now, after four weeks of it I have released 2 books into the "wild" at the Community Services Center in TianMu, Taipei and sent out 4 other books on controlled releases. This week I'm setting up my first attempt at a bookray. As if this weren't enough, I'm also trying to make the library of donated books in the Community Services Center an Official Book Crossing Zone so I can get more people in Taipei's international community involved in bookcrossing. With the amount of expats that come through there, just imagine where some of the books could end up!
Once my library dreams were constricted to just my own set of shelves but now I'm coming to embrace a bookcrossing motto - that the whole world is a library and if you truly love a book you set it free. If you find a bookcrossing book out there - check it out and sign up. It's a serious fun!
Image credit: www.bookcrossing.com