I signed up for the Bookcrossing site back in 2003, excited by the idea that you could release books into the wild and track their journey as people picked them up and read them. After registering a grand total of two books and attempting to leave one in the gym, I quickly realised that I felt too furtive and socially embarrassed leaving anything anywhere, and also noticed that the vast majority of books seemed to disappear without trace as people found them but didn't register them on the site or they got swept away into lost property or whatever. Also the act of printing out a label proved too much for me, I didn't have my own printer (this is eight years ago we're talking about) and, well, lazy.
In the meantime I signed up to Readitswapit.com, which appealed because you post the books and it just felt generally more user friendly, although less exciting. Although I have recently realised that there is such a thing as a "library" which is kind of similar except you don't have to pay postage.
Anyway, last week I was in CO1, the "church cafe" opposite the library in Colchester, and saw they had a Bookcrossing shelf. What could be easier than picking up a few books (although still with the social embarrassment in case someone thought I was nicking them) and registering them online, now internet access is everwhere. And then I can take them back again. Of course the books haven't travelled far, but rather than taking a "balloon race" attitude to the whole thing I am starting to think it is actually a great way to meet other book lovers in my new community, by exchanging comments about books on the site. I see there are local meet-ups, which will be nice in 20,000 years time when the children sleep properly. In fact I was pleased to see that Colchester has more books "in the wild" than any other Essex town. Go us.
An interview with Sarah Matthias
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