What Do You Do With Your Old Books? Well You Could Try Book Crossing
You finish your book and pause for reflection. Then what? Whether you loved it, thought it well, OK … or hated it, doesn’t matter, because you put it on the shelf no matter what. But if you really loved it … why not let it go?
Old Books Put to Good Use?
What a waste! Instead of letting a book you’ve just read moulder on your bookshelf, or prop up a table on an uneven floor, why not let it go? Why not give all your read and unloved/untouched-for-years books their freedom? Let somebody else enjoy them.
Not a good use for books you’ve read!
An organisation called The Book Crossing, encourages you to do just that. And, having done so, they invite you to log back into their website and see where your freed book ends up.
Better Than A Message In A Bottle
Let the idea gel in your imagination. You set a book free. You put it down in, say, a Paris café on purpose and walk away and forget about it. But you can’t. It nags in the back of your brain. Who found it? Where were they from? Did they enjoy it?
Where is it now? If you have ever launched a message in a bottle, you’ll know that feeling. But, it is a rare thing to find out where your bottled message ended up. With your freed book… you can. Singapore? Sydney? Seattle? Stockport? Your book could end up anywhere! If the finder plays the game, you’ll be able to track its progress.
It is such a simple idea, you wonder how come nobody ever did it before. Here’s how it works. You open a free account and register the book you are about to set free on the Book Crossing website. The website gives you a unique number and you write this on a label, which you stick in the book. Then you leave your book in a public place… café, waiting room, park bench, on a train, a boat, a plane… anywhere someone might find it and pick it up.
They take it with them. Seeing the label and the ID number (a BCID, they call it – Book Crossing ID), and if the finder is a sport, they can go to the website, enter the unique number and report it found and where. Then, they in turn, let it go. You can then go back onto the website every now and again and check on your book’s progress. Great fun, as the book is freed over and over… ending up… well that’s the point. It can end up anywhere in the world, getting read again and again. Which has to be better than it just sitting on your shelf gathering dust.
Simple. It’s Free too, of course.
A word of caution, however. If you have written your name in your book (as you do), then cross it out. The first book I freed, I didn’t do that. The very next day, after I left it in a bar not a million miles away from here, the phone rang. It was helpful Roger. Told me not to worry… he’d found the book I’d lost and would keep it for me until next we met!
Go for it. Choose a book to free. Register it and download free labels (or make your own) from the Book Crossing website. Write in the BCID in the space provided, stick the label in your book and launch it into the unknown. And wait for it to turn up somewhere in the world. You won’t be alone… you’ll be joining 909,713 BookCrossers and 6,796,015 books travelling throughout 132 countries… and counting!
Get ready to launch – open a free account today!
– Here is the Book Crossing website –
Follow his example – Gerard Depardieu Gives it Away
Operation Free Books
Gerard Depardieu took part in Operation Free Books at the Gare Montparnasse in Paris May 26, 2010. Part of a literacy campaign, the Minister of Culture Frederic Mitterrand opened the event. The idea behind the initiative being; you take a free book… read it and leave it in a public place for someone else to find, and read, and….then leave it in a public place. In all, some 10,000 free books were handed out.Reprising his famous role as Cyrano de Bergerac, Gerard Depardieu read an extract from the 19thC classic. He also recalled his own, painful childhood memories of trying to learn to read and how he was helped by an Algerian immigrant.
So if you find a book lying around unattended… you now know what to do with it.
Story: Chris McCready