Four years ago today I joined Bookcrossing. I first heard about it through an email list I used to contribute to – people were sharing interesting web sites, and someone mentioned this cool on-line book club they’d discovered. I’d like to say I immediately went and joined, but I actually didn’t even bother to click on the link – “book club” to me just meant a bunch of people all reading the same book and talking about it, which wasn’t at all my cup of tea.
It wasn’t until a couple of months later that someone else mentioned bookcrossing, and this time their description caught my interest a bit more, and it was a Sunday afternoon with nothing much to do, so I clicked on the link. And was immediately hooked. It sounded like such a neat idea – giving your unwanted books a second life, sharing your favourites with new readers, and generally reducing the number of books in the house (those of you reading this who are bookcrossers may now laugh loudly). I immediately started scouring our bookshelves for books I could register and release, and that night registered my first book, Skyfall by Harry Harrison.
The next morning I released it at the university, hiding it in a payphone booth. I can still remember how nervous I was about someone seeing me – I actually pretended to look up a phone number in the directory just so I’d have an excuse to go into the booth (a far cry from my release behaviour nowadays, which is much more casual – I just put the book down where I want to release it, not caring who sees me do it).
And that might have been the end of my bookcrossing experience, if it wasn’t for a PM from Mothercat that night: she’d seen my release notes, and recognised I was a new bookcrosser in town, so sent me a lovely message welcoming me to bookcrossing and inviting me to a meetup in a few days’ time.
I was even more nervous about going to the meetup than I had been about releasing a book – after all, these were people I’d met on the internet! But I gathered my courage (and a couple of books) and set off into town. I got to the cafe where the group were meeting… and it was shut (this was in the bad old days of meetup.com when they used to randomly assign meetups to venues, no matter how unsuitable). Just when I was beginning to wonder if the whole thing was some sort of con, I spotted someone else walking towards the cafe carrying a book (the bookcrossing equivalent of a secret handshake :-)), and before I knew it, I was surrounded by bookcrossers, and we were eagerly swapping books and sharing release stories. By the time the next month’s meetup came round (this time at a cafe way out in Sumner, a suburb miles from anywhere), I found myself volunteering to set up a webpage where we could announce meeting venues so we wouldn’t have to rely on meetup.com. And the rest, as they say, is history.
So now it’s four years on, and I’ve registered 2,133 books, released 1,474 of them into the wild (and given who knows how many to other bookcrossers), had 996 catches (the latest just two days ago: The Private Life of Mona Lisa by Pierre La Mure), been given 684 books by other bookcrossers (no wonder Mt TBR is so high!), and found 5 books in the wild. I’ve also organised two conventions (and helped out with two others), been to Sydney and Brisbane and all over the South Island on bookcrossing adventures, and made some wonderful friends, both here in Christchurch and all over the world.
Thank you Bookcrossing.com, for a wonderful four years! (And here’s to many more!)