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Bookcrossing–Set your books free!

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

I started Bookcrossing about a month ago and haven’t stopped telling people about it since. Bookcrossing is the act of leaving books in public places for others to pick up, read, and then do likewise. It’s a great way to get people reading, and to share the books that you’ve read or aren’t interested in keeping anymore.

So how does it work? First you go to the Bookcrossing site (www.bookcrossing.com ), set up an account, and register the book you wish to set free. You’ll be given an ID number; you then write a  journal entry on your profile about the book. On the inside cover of the book you can either print out a label from the site, or hand-write a note which will tell the reader that the book is free, and that if they register the ID they can write about what they thought of the book once they have read it.  When they are done reading, they can once again set it out into the world to be picked up and read by another person.  Books can be tracked by journal entries all over your city and in some cases the world.

There are two different ways to release a book: wild releases where you leave books in designated places in the city for people to pick up, and controlled releases where you recycle a read by giving the book to a person, or group of people you know.

Bookcrossing was started in America by Ron Hornbaker in the spring of 2001. He was inspired by two community-driven and public-motivated schemes; first the Amsterdam bike system, where the public are encouraged to get around their city using bikes which are available to them at different pick-up and drop-off spots around town, and secondly by the “Where’s George? & Where’s Willy?”  money-tracking projects that were set up to trace US and Canadian dollar bills as they move around the country.

The Bookcrossing site has created an international network, a place that allows you to track books all over the world.

In Canada we just came to the end of the country’s annual Freedom to Read Week (Feb 21st-27th), a week that encourages Canadians to think about intellectual freedom. Bookcrossing along with the Freedom of Expression Committee saw this week as a great time to ask people to share books that are considered to be challenged books.

By registering challenged books such as To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger, and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and sending them out into the world, these organizations  hope to  make others aware of books that have been in some cases blacklisted within schools and libraries across the country. What a great idea! There are many challenged books that I have read over the years that I could pass onto others via the Bookcrossing site, maybe you should check it out too!

Leanda is a writer based in Toronto. For the past 13 years she has hosted & produced music radio shows, managed bands & worked in online music PR. She now runs a music site & also writes for music & culture magazine `Relevant BCN`. Read more of her writing here - http://www.bloggertronix.com