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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Give a Little Bit

I came across a very interesting article in last Sunday's Observer newspaper online today about Bookcrossing. It is a most fascinating phenomenon: someone leaves a book they love for others to find in a public place, announces it on the Bookcrossing websites and waits to see whether whoever gets it loves/hates it too.

There are plenty of people Bookcrossing in New York, and quite a few in the UK, even though most of them are not in the North Yorkshire area, where I spend most of my time whenever I'm not in New York. Most amazing, however, is the fact that there are several people taking part in Bookcrossing from Malta, in Malta. The Maltese Bookcrossing members have not been very active this week, but perhaps someone reading this blog will decide to join and fire up enthusiasm about this great treasure hunt. Things look quite promising because there have already been about 50 releases in Malta.

I plan to take part in Bookcrossing by trying to find a book in New York, in the first instance. I will of course release that book and possibly others from my collection soon after; probably in Scarborough or somewhere in North Yorkshire. Part of my plan involves keeping an eye on this project to see how it compares to the whole P2P file sharing debacle. Although I realize that we're dealing with more than just bits and bytes when we exchange words printed on papers, published and originally sold under copyright, I am intrigued about parallels between this kind of sharing and the sharing of electronic files.

I'll be looking for Bookcrossing releases in New York City over the next few days and I'll report back as soon as I find something I'm interested in, which I also manage to find where it's left by the person who releases it.

Blogger Antoine Cassar said...

This is extremely interesting, Toni.

Do you think that the bookcrossing phenomenon may be another way to increase social capital? Obviously it depends on the books being crossed, and strictly speaking exchanges in this case take place only between two individuals. Yet the very idea of there being a string of people physically reading the same book (and possibly leaving comments on the inside cover for future bookcrossers to ponder on and develop) I find very dynamic, and perhaps has more fertile results than it may at first seem. 

2:12 AM, August 03, 2005
Blogger MaltaGirl said...

Toni, Bookcrossing is indeed very cool, but as I mentioned to Pierre when he blogged about it, there's not much satisfaction in releasing books in Malta! Firstly, finders don't tend to log on and say that they've found the book, and secondly, they probably hang on to it afterwards, which defeats the purpose. This has stopped me from releasing popular (expensive!) books, because what's the point?

Oh well, it's been a while since my last release, and it's about time I culled my library :-)

You should have better luck, there's plenty of Bookcrossers in Yorkshire!

Twanny, no need to write on the inside cover ;-) because each book gets its own page on the bookcrossing website where finders get to comment on the book, like here.

Actually it seems that the books with the most comments are part of bookrings or bookrays - instead of releasing "in the wild", you have people sign up and they mail the book to each other - this way, you know that the book will be passed on.

Any takers for a Maltese bloggers' bookring? :-D 

9:09 AM, August 03, 2005
Blogger Toni Sant said...

Maltagirl, I should have known you'd be one of the people releasing books in Malta! Thank you so very much for pointing out that Pierre had already blogged about Bookcrossing. I probably missed that detail because I somehow became distracted before getting to the end of that post...and then never got back to it.

The fact that it came to my attention through another channel a few weeks later means that there's really something to the idea of Bookcrossing; so I plan to pursue it. Keeping in mind that my interest in all this goes beyond the books themselves.

Incidentally, Yorkshire is a huge county and very little of it is easily accessible to me, because I don't drive a car. I'm fine with bookcrossers in Scarborough, Seamer, Filey and York...perhaps Hull, Bridlinglton, Driffield and Beverely are possibilities too, but more for the occasional release than as regular locations. East Riding is close but not close enough, and Leeds is still slightly off my radar. The ideal location for me would be Scarborough, of course.

Anyway, let's see how it goes in New York...and I hope someone takes you up on your offer in Malta, even though I like the idea of open bookcrossing better than bookrings. A certain degree of leeching is an inevitable part of any open exchange. 

2:43 PM, August 03, 2005
Blogger MaltaGirl said...

Good luck in your bookcrossing endeavours in New York, this might help :-)

And a Maltese bookring doesn't have to be confined to Malta ;-) we'd just have to remember NOT to ship books to you by sea (takes forever). 

4:10 PM, August 03, 2005
Blogger david said...

Wow! Hadn't heard about it.
What a beautiful idea.
Kind of made my day, honest.
Thanks Toni. 

7:36 PM, August 03, 2005
Blogger Lena said...

I did come across the bookcrossing website some time ago, but the idea didn't strike me as applicable to Malta lol. Ironic since we're such a small country and it would be the ideal place for bookcrossing activities! But as Maltagirl already said, I don't expect the average Maltese to pass on a book once he/she's found it. I'd love to share books although I don't own many lol. And Maltagirl, the bookring idea sounds interesting =) 

3:20 PM, August 07, 2005

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