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BookCrossing - Losing Books for Others to Find, Read, Share, Pass On

Updated on November 19, 2016
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John uses his scientific skills (PhD) & experience developing 50+ websites to research, review & evaluate SEO, website design, Social Media

In a world that is paranoid about losing things, gathering possessions, hoarding them, and controlling who sees what and when, there is a refreshing example of the power of lost things.

People are paranoid about losing their smartphones, but what if you could meet new friends by deliberately losing books for strangers to find?

This completely changes things around. The first example of this is perhaps the 'message in a bottle' - its sort of an ancient random email using the ocean as the carrier. For more about messages in bottles -

see Message in a Bottle - The Real Deal

There is another approach based on deliberately losing books. What people do is to take a book that they have read - insert a message and leave it somewhere for people to pick up and read. Its sort of a "Message in a Book" because a note and ID number is inserted as a label in the book (see images).

Losing books for other to find and enjoy
Losing books for other to find and enjoy | Source
A BookCrossing Meet up in Poland
A BookCrossing Meet up in Poland | Source
Books left in unusual places
Books left in unusual places | Source

The motto is 'Don't be selfish with your books - read and release them for others to read! The social networking system is run from a free website

It is free to join and members can download labels from the site that they can insert in the books. The labels are registered and tracked by the website using a lost and found system - people record where the book was lost and others record where they found the book. Users can tag and track each book by marking them using labels with BookCrossing Identity Numbers (BCIDs), each of which is unique to each book. This number is registered on the site, allowing the book to be followed around the world and potentially allowing the 'loser' to make contact with the 'finders'. Its rather like the chain "message in a bottle". As the book is passed from one reader to the next, it can be tracked and its readers can connect and exchange information.

BookCossing has becomes a World Library with more than one million BookCrossers and more than 9 million registered books travelling throughout more than 130 countries.

The mission of BookCrossing is simple - Their aim is to connect people through books, as they love books and want to share them. Ron Hornbaker with the help of his wife, Kaori, and two co-founders Bruce and Heather Pedersen established the system and site in April 21, 2001. The team that runs the site is based in Sandpoint, Idaho, supported by a huge list of volunteers around the world.

So clear out your bookshelves and breath new life into your books - pass them on to another reader, who may email you with a review. The online records and tracking system mean that members can connect with other readers (if they want to). The site also allows readers to post reviews and submit articles. There are newsletters and lots of other stuff on the website.

So if you love books, and love to lose them to make friends with other book lovers join BookCrossers and start losing those books

Below are the top 10 BookCrossing countries by percentage of total member are:

Spain 1%
Portugal 3%
France 4%
Australia 5%
Canada 8%
Finland 10%
Netherlands 11%
United Kingdom 13%
Germany 16%
USA 29%

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Jenny Grainger 4 years ago from Croydon, Victoria, Australia

    Hmmm. As a dedicted BookCrosser for over ten years now, I'm still amazed - and pleased - people are still 'discovering' it.

    Guess they've never come across one where they live ! So look it up, 'go hunting' in a place near you.

  • Docmo profile image

    Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

    What a brilliant idea and what a wonderful mission. I've not heard of Bookcrossing before and will look out for this. As someone who grew up loving books but not able to afford them I can relate to this mission. Bravo!

  • Emeraldgreen21 profile image

    Atell Rohlandt 5 years ago from South Africa

    This is amazing. It's the first time I've heard about this, and I must say that I love the idea! I might have a book or two I'd like to 'lose'.

  • diogenes profile image

    diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

    It amazes me how large some organizations become before I have heard of them. I love books dearly. I buy them used from charity shops and flea markets (boot sales) or online from Ebay. I collect some fiction authors, others I put back into circulation through charity shops. The trouble with books today is you can spend about 2 bucks used up to 20 bucks or more new, but if yu would evver like to sell them again, forget it.

    There used to be great used book shops around where you could buy, sell and trade; some had coffee shops attached. All gone thanks to the Internet I suppose.

    In the UK, if someone saw you leaving books around, you might get done for littering or arrested until it was determined it wasn't a bombe...evedently, someone is doing it.


  • that one girl profile image

    that one girl 5 years ago from Washington state

    I love this idea! I've just joined the website -- I totally have some books in mind, too, I just need to create the labels!