Domino-ating Dunedin

[Note: this diary entry is a copy of an article I have submitted to the Bookcrossing.com newsletter.]

What do you do with 75 Reader’s Digest Condensed Books? If you’re a Bookcrosser, then the answer is easy: “Release them!” But if you’re lytteltonwitch, you come up with something a lot more creative…

Exactly why she was in possession of 75 Reader’s Digest Condensed Books is a question we’ll have to leave to lytteltonwitch to answer, but the important thing for our story is that one day, while contemplating the books, she was struck not by their literary quality, but by the fact that they’re all the same size and shape – perfect for a game of Bookcrossing Dominoes! And so a plan was hatched for a trip to Dunedin to set up what may not be a record breaking domino toppling event, but must surely be a unique one (and at the same time to help promote the upcoming New Zealand Bookcrossing Convention, to be hosted by Dunedin in February 2006).

The trip down to Dunedin is a story in itself (I won’t go into it here, but you can find parts of it told by Ballycumber, our infamous Cheat Book, and 25 copies of Tom Sawyer), but finally on the morning of Sunday 13 November 2005 a small team of Bookcrossers assembled in Dunedin to set up the world’s first Bookcrossing Dominoes. And there they hit their first snag: the weather. Heavy rain meant that our first choice of venue, the Octagon (Dunedin’s central plaza), was out, so with the help of the Dunedin Bookcrossers we frantically searched for a suitable site that was indoors and public, and where we wouldn’t immediately be thrown out by angry security people, and finally ended up in Dunedin’s railway station, which is not only a beautiful example of neo-gothic architecture, but also has the advantage of a large tiled foyer with an overlooking balcony for taking photos from. And now that the station is only used for tourist trains, the ticket office has been moved into a side-room, which means that the main foyer is free of congestion, so there was plenty of room for us to lay out our dominoes, but plenty of people still walk through (mostly tourists either admiring the building or visiting the information centre), so we were guaranteed an audience.

Click on the photos to enlarge:


Ballycumber guards the boxes of books while we checked with the information centre staff that we wouldn’t get arrested for littering their foyer (luckily, the first person we asked had heard of Bookcrossing and thought our dominoes sounded like a fun idea, so we took that as official permission to go ahead).


Lytteltonwitch begins laying out the first of the books. Each book had a flyer tucked inside explaining Bookcrossing and giving information about the NZBC Convention.


The layout of the dominoes wasn’t just random – lytteltonwitch had a plan, and had carefully worked out all the crucial measurements.


Can you tell what it is yet?


Ballycumber “helping” rarsberry and lytteltonwitch to lay out the C.


Work on the C continues.


All 75 books are placed, and are attracting quite a lot of attention from passing tourists. One English woman stopped to talk to me where I was taking photos from the balcony, and when I started to explain Bookcrossing to her she interrupted with “Oh, I know all about that. Someone left a book hanging from our fence.”


The toppling of the dominoes. By now we had quite a crowd watching, both downstairs in the foyer and up in the balcony. There were a couple of false starts before the dominoes fell cleanly (some of those angles on the B were a bit tricky), but when they finally did, we got a loud round of applause from the spectators.


Ballycumber surveys a job well done.

The books, of course, were left in the wild where they fell. Now we just sit back and wait for the journal entries…

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