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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:  BookCrossing.com 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?
Karen: 
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 – http://2012.bcukunconvention.co.uk/

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

World Book Night 2012 – what did you give?

April 23rd is no longer just St George’s Day or the anniversary of the birth and death of Shakespeare; for the last two years, it’s also been World Book Night, where a million books of all genres have been given away free to members of the public around the UK, and elsewhere.

This year, the shortlist was a little longer than in 2011, with twenty-five titles for givers and receivers to choose from. I was lucky enough to have a box full of The Player of Games by Iain M Banks to distribute, AWW originator Rob gave Misery by Stephen King, and on a very rainy evening, we took our novels to The Big BookBang at Slack Space, a not-for-profit arts space in Colchester.  We had the privilege of advocating and reading passages from our books, along with eight or nine other givers.  This was interspersed with an introduction to Book Crossing, plus local poets Fred Slattern and Mark Brayley, some stand-up comedy and even a local author.

Rob was first up to introduce his book. I was the last to advocate their book in person.  The event was really well attended, with over a hundred people braving the dreadful weather to leave with a couple of lovely new free books, as well as some pre-loved copies from the Book Crossing tables at the back of the hall.

The full list of books runs like this:

Which would you have chosen to give away?  Which have you read, and which are still on your list?  Was something missing?
Some of my very favourites are there – Pride and Prejudice, Good Omens and The Time Traveller’s Wife. I would have loved to get a copy of Let the Right One In, as I loved the film.  I’m really looking forward to reading Notes From A Small Island, as Bill Bryson became the Chancellor of Durham University at least in part due to his description of the city’s beauty in this travelogue of Britain.  I would have liked to see a poetry collection on the list somewhere (I gave The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy last year, she’s my idol).
Let us know what you think – what would you like to see there next year?  I’d recommend signing up as a giver, especially if you’ve got a great event in your local area where you can share your books.

Kate Neilan @magic_kitten