On Dec. 20th Michelle Slatalla wrote an story in the Gray Lady about Bookcrossing and her experiences as a new member.
The idea behind BookCrossing.com is simple. You drop off a book in a public place. Or pick up one someone else left behind. Eventually the whole world becomes one big, free library...
BookCrossing.com seemed like poetic justice. The Internet, which threatens to replace good, old-fashioned books with soulless bits of downloadable information that readers have to click through, instead was extending the lives of my paper friends...
I love a treasure hunt. But bookcrossing turned out to be a lot harder than I had expected.
That’s partly because when you release a book, you can’t attract attention. Drop a paperback on the condiments bar at Peet’s, and the last thing you want is to hear, “Hey, lady, you forgot your copy of ‘Ulysses’ and somebody just sprinkled cinnamon on it.”
More complications: All the books I tried to catch were mysteriously gone by the time I reached their release sites, even as the books I dropped disappeared without a trace. You would think that, with 260,000 registered bookcrossers nationwide — 2,119 in San Francisco — one of them could spare the time to stop by a hospital lobby to pick up a perfectly good copy (hardcover!) of “The Wind in the Willows” and then log in to report the finding.
I think it took her a while to get the idea that members of BookCrossing make up a tiny percentage of those who "Catch" a book that has been "Released". ;-D
She mentions that there are BookCrosser groups on Facebook and YouTube, which I will find time to look into in the new year.
She finally contacted the Godfather of BookCrossing for enlightenment:
I also phoned Scott Sorochak, the chief executive of BookCrossing, for pointers.
“It’s all about serendipity,” he said.
“That’s the key?” I asked.
Only about 33 percent of the books released “in the wild” are picked up by bookcrossers within 30 days, he added.
“Not to sound Type A or anything, but I want to catch one now,” I said.
Well, here's where things got interesting.
How she finally makes her first "Catch" is cool, not to mention rather romantic, hee, hee. ;-D
When BookCrossers worldwide learned of the story they stepped forward to offer her ideas on how to increase her catch rate for wild releases.
There a thread in the Announcements forum letting people know about the article and another one in Release Techniques that was set up to share the "wealth of ideas to help this newbie BookCrosser, and others like her, improve the rate of the number of her wild releases that are picked up."