Today April the 10th is my 10th bookcrossing anniversary and coincidently the start of the Bookcrossing World Convention 2015 which this year is being held in Oxford (they are not always held in the UK – so yay). As always I am looking forward to seeing friends who I only see once a year – generally at an ‘Uncon’ (that’s an unofficial convention) when the official one is held overseas. Bookcrossing it might surprise you to know – is a very social activity. So trying to get myself organised in good time, I spent an hour or two sat on the floor on Tuesday evening, surrounded by books, bookcrossing labels and stickers trying to work out how many I could physically fit into one rucksack and lift myself (heaven help me if I have to run for the train).
Many of you may not have known that I was a bookcrosser – oh dear this is beginning to feel like a confession – I am not a very good bookcrosser these days. Like so many things in life the first enthusiasm for a new pastime soon dies down, beginning to take a back seat in our lives – to be honest though, my first enthusiasm lasted several years. I still believe in bookcrossing – despite having a house full of books that I really don’t want to give away – I still do love the idea of sending books out into the world, leaving them for people to find. I still love the idea, but I have to be honest I don’t do much ‘pure bookcrossing’ now. My bookcrossing activities these days are generally limited to monthly meet ups and yearly conventions.
I really do think that the world has changed a lot in the last 10 years. We are a more cynical, suspicious species even than we were I believe, and I don’t know if people bother to pick up books they find left in public places like they used to. I may be wrong – I don’t even look at my bookcrossing journal entries anymore – there are books out there somewhere in the world that I left on benches, café tables, ladies toilets, in phone boxes, on bus seats – they could be found and ‘journaled’ by someone at any moment – only I think the chances of that have become less likely rather than more likely. One of the problems I think is the fact there is still no app for bookcrossing, if there were a free app people would find a book – think ‘oh cool’ get the app journal the book etc. I understand why there isn’t an app – Bookcrossing is a big thing (where do you think WBN get the numbers for the books that no one bothers to use?) but it is run by volunteers and to develop an app would cost a lot of money. Still, bookcrossing is still going strong – and I am very glad of that, I still think it’s brilliant.
I really do need to get my bookcrossing mojo back – people still give me bags of books they want to get rid of because they know I am a bookcrosser – I have several bags of books sitting in my spare room at any one time. I have made a lot of good friends through bookcrossing, so many memories of happy bookcrossing times – there was a time when I often went to local meet ups in places other than Birmingham, swapping books and chatting Saturday afternoons away and home again by train in time for tea.
The convention this year is being held at St. Hilda’s college – and I was luckily early enough to snap up one of the en-suit rooms available at the college. Meaning this year at least, I won’t spend half the weekend walking back and forth between my accommodation and the convention site. St Hilda’s of course some of you may know was the college of one of my favourite writers – Barbara Pym, so I am very excited to be staying there. On Saturday morning there will be a talk by Dr Clemence Schultze, past Chairman of The Barbara Pym Society. Her talk will be entitled ‘Barbara Pym: An Unashamed Reader of Novels’. That may be the highlight of the weekend for me. I will be arriving in Oxford around lunchtime today – with a rucksack of books on my back, clutching a gift for another bookcrosser. This is a lovely bookcrossing tradition – the famous nss (not so secret – similar to a secret Santa swap) the not so secret part being that when the recipient goes online and journals the book(s) in the parcel they find out who it is from. My gift is for someone travelling a very long way to attend the convention, someone I have never met – I really hope she likes her gift.