I've mentioned BookCrossing here on LJ a few times in the past, but never in great detail, so this will be my first BookCrossing-centred post. I know there are fellow BookCrossers on my F-List, so in future there may be further BookCrossing-inspired entries, but first, I want to tell you all about my experiences with the BookCrossing concept of the "Wild Release".
I've been a member of BookCrossing since 9 January 2007. In that time I have registered around 40 books. Granted, that does not seem like a lot compared to other BookCrossers, such as CountofMonte, who since September 2007 has registered over 36,000 books and released near-on the same into the Wild. I've released 7 books into the Wild in the past three years, which is nowhere near as impressive as CountofMonte and many other fellow BookCrossers, but it's not as if I havent tried.
For me, the Wild Release and resulting Catch is an elusive beast. Of the 7 books I've set free into the Wilderness, I am yet to have one caught.
BookCrossing encourages that all registered books be released into the Wild: It is the cornerstone of the BookCrossing phenomena, whereby a BookCrosser leaves a registered book at a random location for a complete stranger to find. It's random and it's risky: There is no guarantee that the book you release will be found or journaled, and the liklihood of you ever knowing what happened to the book is pretty slim. But that's the nature of BookCrossing, and therein lies the fun and excitement.
The fact that I've only released 7 books into the Wild in the past 3 years probably doesnt give me great odds of having one caught, but by not having one caught I havent felt encouraged to leave more perfectly good books exposed to the elements in the hope of someone finding them and then letting me know that they've found them. In the past three years I have found the "Controlled Release" far more rewarding, whereby I simply find someone to give my books to: Friends, family, fellow BookCrossers.
The truth is, I dont want to have all my BookCrossing experiences "Controlled" in this way. I want people to find the books I leave in the wild, to journal them and then let them continue their journey. I want to have people join BookCrossing because they found a book I released. I want them to be as excited by the concept of the "Wild Release" as I am, but at the same time I'd like them to have a little more success than what I have had.
The first book I set free into the Wild was Stupid White Men by Michael Moore (BCID 625-4768212), which I slotted into the communal bookshelf on level one of the EDS building in Adelaide, South Australia, where I was working at the time. The date was 24 April 2007. I was sure it would be picked up, and it was: The same day it disappeared off the shelf, but there was no accompanying journal entry to let me know who had found it. The entire time I worked there I never once saw it returned to the shelf. I wondered if perhaps it had been taken by someone who didnt agree with its content. I guess I will never know, unless by some miracle it reappears at some point in the future.
The lack of success with my first Wild Release meant I didnt release another into the Wild until 7 October 2009: The Dog Walker by Leslie Schnur (BCID 179-4962715). I left it sitting on the park bench outside the Town Hall in Quorn, South Australia; I was walking the dog at the time and thought it a fitting release. It was early evening when I released it, and by 7.30am the next morning when I drove past on my way to work it was gone. As with my first Wild Release, it has never been journaled by the finder so I dont know what happened to it.
This year I made a resolution to myself to Wild Release more BookCrossing books, so on 16 January I released two books in Saddleworth, South Australia: Cast But One Shadow / Winter Love by Han Suyin (BCID 776-7383973), and Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner (BCID 037-3368731). It was the Tour Down Under and there were tourists everywhere: I was sure of a catch, but to date there is still no journal entry.
Over the same weekend I tried my luck with a third release, this time at the Mt Remarkable hiking trail gate in Melrose, South Australia, a popular tourist spot. It was From the Sheds by Matthew Johns (BCID 242-7096180). I left it on the pamphlet box where the maps of the hiking trail are kept. It hasnt been journaled yet either.
Two days later, I set another free in Port Augusta, at the Women's War Memorial in Gladstone Square. It was still school holidays, so I chose some YA Fiction: Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty (BCID 378-5412556). Still no catch.
Very disillusioned I decided that I was not going to release another book into the Wild until one of the books I'd already released was successfully caught, however, seven months later I have caved in and this week released another two books into the Wild. I found a new Zone for releasing: the Port Augusta Wharf. When it's not windy or wet it's a beautiful place to take a walk, so I released Mixed Messages by Linda Lael Miller (BCID 279-3296190) there on Monday. The following day (yesterday) I tried my luck again with the Women's War Memorial in Gladstone Square, leaving Arrivals & Departures by Leslie Thomas (BCID 452-4132086) on one of the park benches. I was hoping that someone walking through the square on their way to work would see the book and pick it up. Neither books are sitting at their release locations, but they havent been journaled so far either.
I think the reason for my lack of success with the Wild Release is two-fold: First, I am the only BookCrosser in the town where I live, so the liklihood of a fellow BookCrosser monitoring books in the Wild and coming to collect mine is highly unlikely. There are 3 registered BookCrossers in the town where I work, but none of them appear to be active releasers or catchers. I've noticed from BookCrossing statistics that those BookCrossers with the most success in releasing books into the Wild are so due to the fact that other BookCrossers in the same area are monitoring their release zones.
Second, I'm unsure if the places I'm choosing to release my books are particularly good "zones", yet I'm limited in my options: I dont live or work in large towns with lots of people so I try to choose those locations with the most foot-traffic, or where tourists are likely to be, but perhaps my choices are wrong? Perhaps I should try the cafes, fast-food restaurants, and medical centres (as others have done)? Or maybe I need to release in places with a greater population to give a boost to the number of potential finders? Surely I'm not the only small-town BookCrosser in the world?
I'm determined to get a Wild Release caught eventually. I will be endeavouring to release more books into the Wild in the very near future, I just have to peruse my bookshelf first and decide on which books to set free next, and I will share my success (or lack thereof) here on LJ.
What are your thoughts on the BookCrossing concept? Do you find it interesting, or feel it is a complete waste of time, energy and a perfectly good book?
Are you a BookCrosser, and if so do you Wild Release? I'd be most interested in hearing your experiences.
BookCrossing: It's like Geocaching but with books and without the GPS (unless you really need it). Okay, so it's not really like Geocaching at all, but that seems to be the "in thing" at the moment and I was just trying to draw a parallel.