BookCrossing Unravelled

Ever been out for an evening drink, or a mid-morning coffee and noticed a pile of books on a shelf in the corner?  Chances are you’ve stumbled across a BookCrossing site.  The scheme, encouraging people to share their books once they’ve read them, has been gaining popularity in recent years, so we asked local BookCrosser Karen to tell us more…

AWW:  Could you explain the idea of BookCrossing, and how/where it originated?
Karen: was set up in 2001 in Idaho, by Ron Hornbaker.  Since then, over 9 million books and 1.1 million people have been involved, in 132 different countries.
Basically, you sign up for an account (for free), type in the ISBN or title of your book and it is allocated its own unique number. Once you’ve written in the number or put a sticker in the book, you can either leave it lying around for someone to find or put it on a bookshelf designated an Official BookCrossing Zone – there are around seven of these in Colchester alone.
If someone else fancies reading it, they can, free.  It’s all about sharing.

AWW:  How did you first become involved in BookCrossing yourself?
Karen:  Lots of the books have stickers on and this is often the way people find out about it; word of mouth is another, and a suitably sized ‘unconvention’ in your town is another.  There’s be one of these happening in Colchester in 2012 – keep reading for more information!

AWW:  Why should book fans get into BookCrossing?
Karen:  There’s curiosity to start off with, then sociability, then the massive range of books that you get to read, there’s travel, there’s free books in just about every town, there’s people to meet up with when you get wherever you’re going…  If you’re in Ireland, Translink have taken the idea to their railway stations; if you’re in Colchester, it’s pubs, art spaces and cafes. It’s something that some people do sociably and lots do all on their own, just to share.

AWW:  How can we get involved?
Karen:  If you fancy, or think you might fancy, joining, have a look at the website, or have a chat with one of us on Twitter (@nneerraakk or @ardachybc).  You can turn up at The Layer Fox pub, Layer de la Haye, Essex, on the third Thursday of the month around 7pm too – we’re easily spotted by the mountain of books and lack of table.

AWW:  Are there any BookCrossing opportunities available in and around Colchester?
Karen:  If you want to test the water first, wander along to any of the following places:

The Layer Fox pub, Layer de la Haye
SlackSpace, Colchester
The Purple Dog, Colchester
The Hospital Arms, Colchester
CO1 cafe, Colchester
The Foresters Arms, Colchester
All of these have permanent BookCrossing spaces. Please do buy at least a drink while you’re there, even if it’s coffee. You can help yourself to books, and leave books on the shelf with or without labels, one of us will pick them up. Readers of all types can join in, we have those who like chick lit through to an amazing history boffin who can tell you anything you’d like to know about Romans and then sometimes surprises with poetry!
We don’t just share old books; we’re also likely to have bought the most recent publications and shared them once we’re read them instead of putting them on a shelf at home. That’s not to say the oldies cannot be the goodies too. Age range of those joining in is from young children to 90+.

AWW:  Are there any big BookCrossing events that we can look out for?
An international BookCrossing Convention is held every year and attracts BookCrossers from around the world. The UK Unconvention was originally set up as an alternative for those who, for whatever reason, were unable to attend the international event.
Several years on, the UK Unconvention is a big event in its own right, attracting both UK and overseas BookCrossers. Historically held around the same time as the main Convention, in 2010 the Unconvention moved to early Autumn due to the international event taking place in nearby Amsterdam. The 2010 Unconvention in Swindon was such a big hit that we had another Autumn Unconvention in 2011, this time in Nottingham. In 2012 we will continue this tradition with an Autumn Unconvention in Colchester, balancing out the year with the international Convention in Dublin in April.  Join us for author talks, ghost walks, town wide book swap and a release walk in Colchester.  More information can be found at the website –

AWW:  If anyone would like to know any more, how can they get in touch with you?
Karen:  Say hello on Twitter (@nneerraakk, @ardachybc) or you can email me at [email protected]


Kate Neilan @Magic_kitten

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