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Tuesday, November 19, 2002

BookCrossing Benefits Readers and Writers

I keep coming across references to BookCrossing! For those who haven’t heard, BookCrossing is an online and physical book club that encourages people to give away books or “accidentally” leave them places. The books carry labels to help track them, and the people who find them can use the label information to write about the books and share them with others.

For example, Joe buys a copy of Bush at War, reads it and labels it, then leaves it on a park bench or a coffee shop booth. Sue loves Four Blind Mice, so she buys an extra copy, labels it, and gives it to a friend at work. Some people even pass labeled books out at events.

Some writers and publishers hate the whole idea of “freeing” books, as you can see at BookCrossing’s message boards. However, as a writer, I love the idea of more people finding my books, sharing them with others, and writing about them! The buzz they generate sells more books, so that’s hardly a loss for the author or publisher. Besides, someone has to buy a copy to (as BookCrossing says) “release it.” Also, for authors whose publishers don’t supply free review copies, it means someone else provides a review copy! From visiting BookCrossing’s site, I can see that freed books generate reviews, unlike too many of the review copies sent to traditional book reviewers.

If you’re interested in BookCrossing (or already involved with them), please consider buying and “freeing” a copy of The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer. I even posted that suggestion at The Acorn Gathering Home Page.

I edited and co-wrote that collection of unusual and often inspiring short stories, with royalties going to cancer cure research. With a program like BookCrossing, many more people would learn about The Acorn Gathering, and help it raise more money for its cause. They could start buying more copies and “freeing” them, for still others to discover. They would also see that they treasure many of the book’s stories; I’ve found that different readers have different favorites in that collection. With a discussion area like at BookCrossing, a lively talk could develop about why some of these stories and authors affect readers so deeply.

Readers can order The Acorn Gathering at most local or online bookstores. They can also preview it online at iUniverse.

Even beyond my work, I love reading books, and I love the idea of people sharing, talking about, and promoting books in general. Please tell others about BookCrossing, or e-mail them a link to this entry.