|I've been a Bookcrossing member since 2002. It's my favorite hobby (besides actually reading the books).|
I've started packing for my trip to China. The first thing to go into my suitcase? Books. A few dozen of them. They are always the first thing I pack, no matter where I go. I take them with me, but I don't bring them back. This time, I'll leave the books in China for someone else to stumble upon, accidentally or on purpose as part of an online community called Bookcrossing. This scavenger hunt/book club is a hobby of mine, and a million other people who participate in Bookcrossing.
Bookcrossing.com was designed by a man named Ron Hornbaker who had the idea to create a worldwide library. His vision was that a person might find a book at any time, anywhere for free. You may be sipping coffee at your favorite coffee shop and suddenly stumble upon a book that someone else left there. Or you may be in a doctor’s waiting room, or sitting on a park bench, or flying on an airplane. And there it will be --- a free book that someone registered on the website and left behind for others to read.
When you register your books on Boookcrossing, you make a journal entry that shares your thoughts about the book. Then you write the unique identification code inside the book, slap a post-it note on the cover telling the world that it's a free Bookcrossing book, and release it somewhere for others to find. Will it be picked up and journalled? That always remains to be seen.
Sometimes journal entries happen quickly. Other times, it takes years before a curious reader logs on and gives an update of the book’s journey. We had quite a bit of luck on our trip to San Francisco. Our favorite "catch" was at Alcatraz. My daughter left a copy of Someone is Hiding on Alcatraz Island on top of a bench inside. We received an email alert three weeks later that the book was now in the hands of a 9-year-old boy from Oregon who had been at Alcatraz the same night we were. His grandmother spotted the book and saw the “FREE BOOK” post-it. Curious, she picked it up, gave it to her grandson, and he registered as a free Bookcrossing member and journaled the find. We were thrilled.
Nearly all the books we left in Brussels and Paris were caught and journaled, too. It added extra delight to our trip during and after, as we continue to receive journal entries on the books we left there.
So now I'm headed to China. I've packed a few Amy Tan's and J. Maarten Troost's Lost on Planet China. I'm hoping these books will find new appreciative readers and will introduce more people to Bookcrossing. I've got my books packed. Now I need to figure out what I'll wear.