Suspend Your Disbelief

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BookCrossing: Catch & Release

Wild release at Litharitsia, Ioannina

Remember the movie Amelie, when Audrey Tatou’s takes photos of her father’s garden gnome in all kinds of faraway places? BookCrossing is kind of like that, but for books. Users label copies of their favorite books with special codes and leave them in public places, then log in to see who’s found the book and where the book has traveled around the world. Says the site:

Release it into the wild. Referred to as the “wild release” (and loved by so many BookCrossers), this type of sharing is a bit like nudging a baby bird out of the nest or sending your kid off to college. Your book doesn’t want to spend its life on your shelf gathering dust; it wants to get out there and touch lives! So leave your labeled book on a park bench on a summer day, in a train station, on the table in your favorite coffee shop — anywhere it’s likely to be caught by another delighted reader. […]

BookCrossing-Logo-138When another reader finds your book, they can enter the BCID on and report that it’s been caught. Journal entries about your book allow you to see where your book is, who’s reading it now, and follow where it goes next. Some books tend to stay in one region while others really move! Your book may touch the life of a reader you never would’ve met, or it may just circulate among your friends.

At the time of this writing, over 850,000 active BookCrossers have collectively registered almost seven million books which are traveling around 130 countries!

As an avid lover of found objects, I’m so curious about this project. And, to my delight, a quick Flickr search yielded scores of images of books being “released” (including the gorgeous one above). Have you ever sent a book, and if so, where did it go? If you found a book, where did it come from?

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