, is devoted to the idea of spreading literacy
by spreading literature
--turning books into their own "messages in bottles
". It works much like the "Where's George
After being read by its owner, a book is registered on-line, and given a unique serial number (which is then written or pasted on a bookplate, along with the URL, inside the front cover). The book is then given to a friend, or placed in a conspicuous location in a public place, such as a booth in a restaurant, a seat on a plane, or wherever strikes the placer's fancy. The idea is that the next user to find the book can visit the website and see who has had the book and what they thought of it, and leave his own comments about how he happened to find the book and how he liked it.
Though the website has been in existence for about a year at the time of this noding, it has only recently begun to gain publicity due to appearances in Wired News and book periodicals. At present, very few books have more than one or two journal entries, and most of these seem to be due to friends passing the books on to other friends, rather than leaving them in the open for serendipitous discovery. However, there have been at least a few success stories. The people who have been so bookcrossed tend to describe it as a very uplifting experience--"like winning the lottery," as one put it.
It is too early to know how this additional publicity will affect BookCrossing; whether it will become another Internet fad remains to be seen. It seems, to this noder, a bit more useful than Where's George; currency is interesting to trace, but in the end, what good is it? Tracking a book provides a sense of satisfaction, and the idea that you have worked a positive change in someone else's life. It provides a sort of virtual meeting of the minds, connecting you together for a moment with someone from far away, whom you might never have known if it were not for that one book that brought you together.
My own BookCrossing page can be accessed via http://www.bookcrossing.com/referral/robotech