Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Abandon a Book Today!

Or perhaps "set a book adrift" would be more appropriate. After reading Mike's post about Bookthing, a "store" in Baltimore that gives away up to 10,000 donated used books a week, I was reminded of an article I read about a program called BookCrossing. Hailed as a "global sociology experiment", BookCrossing aims to encourage book lovers to register books on their website and then leave them to be found in public places. You affix a label or note to the book telling the finder something along the lines of: "I'm not lost, I'm traveling around making friends. Read me and leave me for someone else to find." Each book gets registered with a serial number that lets finders log on, find out where the book has been, and leave comments about what they thought of it.

I decided to go ahead and give it a try today. I had quite a dilemma deciding what book to start with. You want to leave a good book, a book that you want people to read. But you don't want to begin an experiment like this with a prized treasure from your bookshelf. Likewise, you don't want to leave a dud, or worse. Even though most of my books are currently in storage, I scoured my shelf for an appropriate volume. I decided on Debra Phillips' "How to Fall out of Love", which I'd read a while back and found solidly useful, albeit a little flawed towards the end. I also figured it would have a better chance of actually being picked up and and read than titles such as "Roadside Geological Features of Indiana" or the great evangelism aid "Beware of Hellfire, Ye Heathen Masses."

So, I logged in to the BookCrossing site, registered the book, printed up a label, and affixed it inside the cover. During my afternoon walk, I strolled through the Starbucks on the corner near my house. (Everyone has a Starbucks on their corner, right? If you don't, you'll be glad after you check this out.) I dropped the book on a table outside. I continued on my walk. On the way back, I decided to recheck my book deployment. I realized that the outside tables attract a different clientele. Inside, though, with nice carpet, warm tones, and the beat of world music wafting through the air, was a different story. I selected a spot near a window table, where the angst-ridden, unhealthy-love-struck avid readers would most likely sit. I re-deployed the book and made a quick exit. Hopefully, by now, it's in good hands and not being used to prop up the short leg of a table.


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