Sunday, November 30, 2008

If Only We Were Books - What a Story We Could Tell

A book registered on BookCrossing is ready for adventure.

I like to read travel magazines, every now and then I find a really good bit of advice. Did you know that Cipro is becoming resistant to T.D. in Southeast Asia and that Zithromax (or a Z-Pac) is a better choice for the duffel to that destination?

Stuck at home because of a slumping stock market and crazy schedules, it seems easier to read about traveling these days. I am in the middle of reading An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof recommended by some friends who like to travel the way The Kid and I do. Until recently I've never really thought about the books I leave behind for others to read. Friends who are going to Grenada at the end of January are intentionally taking books that are suitable for the Grenada Library in St. Georges. The library there was devastated by hurricane(s). They are also donating all kinds of goodies to local schools. We asked American Airlines to drop the charge for extra baggage, so book schlepping wouldn't be totally painful, but they couldn't. Times are tough for everyone I suppose.

Aside from intrepid travelers who leave books behind, there is one group - I think is still around and doing good in bringing books to the Caribbean is Boaters for Books.

But back to thinking about the books one leaves behind, it seems there was an entrepreneur
a few years back who thought about this too. He started a fun website called BookCrossing where you assign a number to a book and give it away. From the BookCrossing FAQ:

I'm looking at your site here, and I can't believe what I'm reading. Do you actually want me to give away my books?
Ummm, yes. Trust us on this one. Registering your books with, then giving them to a friend, a charity, or otherwise releasing them "into the wild" and following their progress and travels, is infinitely more fulfilling than the small satisfaction you'll get by looking at your books in your bookcase every day.

As Austin Powers would say, "It's karma, baybee!"
When you give the book away, it's "released". In releasing a book, you make an entry (journal the book) at BookCrossing indicating that it's been released. When someone "captures" or finds a book with a BookCrossing label and number, they add an entry at BookCrossing. The bookcrosser who released the book - in this case that's you - receives an email telling them it has been found and from then on, everyone in the chain who held/read the book will receive an email every time somebody journals the book. Each person will also be able to see the book's journey you just look at it on your bookshelf at the website. (Please note email address and journals are sent in the form of a PM (personal message) directly from the BookCrossing site.)

Seems like a lot of fun and an interesting journey - if you're a book.