Tuesday, May 27, 2008


BookCrossing and Traveling Books

A while back I came across BookCrossing.com, an intriguing site. Here's the brief:
At BookCrossing, you can register any book you have on the site, and then set the book free to travel the world and find new readers.

Leave it on a park bench, at a coffee shop, at a hotel on vacation. Share it with a friend or tuck it onto a bookshelf at the gym -- anywhere it might find a new reader! What happens next is up to fate, and we never know where our books might travel next. Track the book's journey around the world as it is passed on from person to person.
I loved the idea of books being set "free," let loose like messages in bottles onto an unsuspecting world. I poked around a bit on the site, and wondered whether anything of mine would ever end up on the lists. That was a couple of years ago, and I don't think I've really thought of the site since.

This last weekend the site turned up in one of my automated ego-searches. Turns out a number of my books have been liberated, and are currently "traveling." Doesn't look like any of the traveling books have been found yet, though. If you happen to see any of the books I've written sitting on a park bench or at a bus stop, unattended, (or anyone else's book for that matter) go ahead and pick them up. They might be traveling books looking for a new home.

I did this once, quite a few years ago, but did not know that there was an organization that tracked such things (silly me). My wife Joyce and I spent a week with her parents at a time-share in New Hampshire. There were three, maybe four books, in the condo, and they were so lame that I bought a copy of an early Tor SF double and left it there. It was the book that had a Leigh Brackett story on one side and a Edmund Hamilton on the other, but the exact titles escape me just now.
Looking back on this, I think this place must've been an anomaly. Later trips established that New England is very friendly to readers. There are lots of used book stores, for example..
I've definitely been on the receiving end of this kind of exchange before--my education in literary horror, for example, began when I found a copy of David G. Hartwell's The Dark Descent on a treestump next to a dumpster in college--but I'm much too clingy with my books to have been on the giving side of the equation before. With the comp copies I get from publishers I often end up with duplicates of books, though, so maybe I'll have to give it a shot.
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