Posts Tagged ‘bookcrossing’

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).


bcMany 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.

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Today is worldbooknight in the UK and the US – it is the second time that this has happened in the UK, and the second time that I have taken part.

This year I have been giving away copies of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I recently re-read my old copy of it in preparation for giving it away.

Last Monday I went to my local library to pick up my books – they came carefully packaged in large cardboard box labled with my name. I later had to fill in my details in the inside – my name and where the book was collected from and add in each unique ID number. This  number can be used to track the books from now on. Recipients of the books can go to the worldbooknight website or the bookcrossing website and by entering in the ID number provide an electronic record of where the book is and who has it, maybe what they thought of it or what they plan to do with it next.

I wanted to give my books to strangers mainly – just randomly, as we do with bookcrossing books sometimes – it is just like those random acts of kindness you hear about – I always feel nervous doing it – going up to strangers. However it is lovely the reactions you get – and also funny – amazing how many people are suspicious and run away quickly.  I also decided to give away a few copies at work – I randomly selected 6 people at work to give books to – and left the rest to give away in the city centre to people I don’t know.

I wanted to have a gallery of photos – Birmingham people who have taken away copies of the book. Some hid their faces – understandable I hate having my picture taken too – some politely refused which I said right from the start they could do. Look at the happy smiles!

My friend Gill – another bookcrosser like me – was giving away copies of Room, so we decided to give copies away together. We met up at 4.30 this afternoon at a city centre coffee shop we frequent often. Urban Coffee Company – where we hold our monthly bookcrossing meet ups – is a fabulous independent coffee shop – they sell delicious coffee and all sorts of other goodies. It is situated on Church street in Birmingham not far from the Cathedral off Colmore Row.  We gave copies of both books to customers and staff at Urban Coffee Company – while enjoying some hot drinks and a snack too.

At about 6.00pm we ventured out into the streets. I gave a copy to a young girl in a school uniform at a bus stop who seemed delighted to have it. At another bus stop I met two sisters – although in their 20’s they laughed about sharing a bedroom and joked they could read out bits of the book to one another – I love that idea!

Now for the good news! I have three books left. I was going to give them all away in town – but to be honest I ran out of steam. So many people turned down the books – maybe they didn’t realise what it was! So I have kept three to give away here.

So if you would like one of the 3 copies I have left – leave a comment on the blog post so others can see if there are any left – and then email me at bookcrossing underscore ali at yahoo dot com with your address. This give away is open to anyone in mainland Europe – sorry everyone else – but UK postage has just gone through the roof.

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10th April 2012 will mark my 7th bookcrossing anniversary. It would be true to say that bookcrossing does not figure as strongly in my life as it once did. However it is still very important to me as through it I have made some lovely friends. I don’t release as many books in to what we bookcrossers call the wild anymore – I attend fewer meet ups than I once did, just going to the local meet up usually now – and that sort of saddens me. Maybe I need to make more effort – and my upcoming anniversary may be the time to do it. I love sharing my love of books – this blog is one way I can do that, but bookcrossing is another. Sending books out to be discovered by others, they are sometimes books I wouldn’t want to read myself – but I don’t believe I can just bookcross books I like – my tastes won’t suit everyone. Although I do love to leave a book I loved somewhere and watch to see if someone else will love it too. Of course I don’t hear from all the books I leave lying around for unsuspecting finders, most disappear completely from view. I like to think, that someone, has gone home clutching a book they found on a bus, in a changing room, on a park bench, and will at some later time open it and start to read. It is the gift of literature to a stranger. If I hear from a book again in the form of a bookcrossing journal entry then that is a bonus, I long ago stopped being disappointed when I don’t. It is a long time since I posted on a bookcrossing forum or joined or started a bookcrossing ring – where bookcrossers pass a book from member to member via post – sharing their thoughts of the book on the electronic journal for that book.
Today was the monthly Birmingham bookcrossing meet up. We meet at the lovely Urban Coffee Company on Church street here in Birmingham. It is a lovely independent coffee shop – with loads of great cakes and things too.

There were about 13 or 14 of us today – and as always it was a very relaxed chilled out affair. I have known most of the people who attended for several years and so it makes for a lovely relaxing afternoon amid friends and books and cups of tea and coffee. One member brought a friend with her today – I wonder what she made of it all. The table piled with books and empty cups, the floor littered with bags, everyone talking and laughing at once at times. The conversation no different to any other large gathering of good friends, we caught up on what had been happening in our lives the past few weeks, oh, and we talked about the books. I had promised myself I wouldn’t pick up any books today – as I have far too many. It was a promise soon broken. A bookcrossing bookring was passed on to me – one I had forgotten signing up for – and probably the last one I did – a Virago book came out of a bag and was quickly snaffled, and then two more found their way into my bag somehow.
I picked up:
Devil by the Sea – Nina Bawden – the Virago book
Aisles – by Paul Magrs – the bookring
The elected Member – Bernice Rubens – one I have wanted to read for a while
The magnificent Spilsbury and the case of the Brides in the bath – Jane Robins – just looked good.

Goodness knows when I will read these – I make no promises as it is obvious I can’t keep promises about books.

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The bookcrossing book-dating event was held this afternoon at Urban Coffee company – and I think was a great success. There was a raffle with some great prizes, and a book quiz that people could buy and take away – they don’t need to be in till march 14th. Local author RJ Ellory was there too , he did a great job, introducing everyone to the event by telling us about his favourite 4 books.  After which the recommenders as we became known, had to do our thing. We each had 3 books which we had brought along, prepared to give away, and of course registered on bookcrossing.

My three books were: The Moonstone Wilkie Collins, The Pursuit of Love  Nancy Mitford and Broken Verses Kamila Shamsie.

Gosh I am glad I had prepared my "talk" and had a crib sheet of notes. I was surprised how easily it is for your mind to suddenly go blank  the 5th time you have to say it. We had 2 mins per book and in  that time we had to tell whoever was with us why we loved that book, in effect "sell" it to them After 6 minutes one of the LUCIA ladies rattled a maraca and everyone had to move around.  At the end of the recommendations Roger Ellory did a marvelous job of auctioning the books  – the money of course going to LUCIA. I think some of us had been nervous about this aspect wondering if anyone would bid (albeit in increments of just 10p) for second hand books. I had imagined there might be a deafening silence as people were invited to bid – but no – there was a bidding war on almost all the books – and every single one was won and paid for by someone. A couple of books at least went for around £4 or £5, my copy of Broken verses fetched over £3 – at increments of 10p there were obviously a lot of enthusiastic bidders. One first edition signed autobiography of Bobby Charlton went for over £10.

We then had a very exciting raffle draw – we had lots of great prizes and I think people were generally delighted with them.

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Birmingham meet up

It was the Birmingham bookcrossing meet today. I had a lovely time – it was a good turn out about 10 or 12 of us, so could have a good old chat. Geoff came with the supply store – which was marvelous because I could buy all my fav labels and stickers. I picked up an interesting book from the shelf which seems to have been previously taken and journalled by an AF then put back on the shelf at Hudsons.


Also got a bookring passed on to me – it was first registered almost 6 years ago and has had a wonderful jouney – the BCID begins with a number 1.


I only released one book on the way to the meet, because of all the hassles with the computer this morning. I will be walking down to Sainsbury’s tomorrow so may release a couple more then.

As mentioned above I had a nightmare with the internet earlier – for some bizarre reason I couldn’t get livejournal or bookcrossing, but could get all the other things I use – though it was slow. Marvelous Mathew – Liz’s OH has been sorting me out via Facebook messager, and got bookcrossing again, but only got livejournal again a few minutes ago. Very odd – but there apparently have been issues with Virgin today.

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Coventry meet up

Liz and I went to the Coventry meet up today – so quick by train, and a not far to walk after really. We had a quick look around the museum which I had been to before with kids from school. It’s a really well done museum, and there are some great exhibits. The meet was in the coffee bar, and we sat in some comfy chairs by the window, unfortunatly it was also in a draught and I got rather chilled. There were some bcers I knew already and a couple of people I hadn’t met before or only met once before – so it was nice to have a chat with them.  As my releasing supplies are diminishing a bit, I picked up a few books for future release too. I only wild released 2 today although I took another 4 to the meet, I also released 3 on Thursday evening.  It’s the Birmingham meet next weekend too, so will have another chance to get some releasing done.

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I have started to feel as if bookcrossing has begun to take a back seat in my life – I don’t want it to – I think it has just happened naturally after more than 4 years on bc. I suppose after the initall enthusiasm you organise and take part in fewer bookrings etc. So in an attempt to re-ignite my original love of all things bc  I plan on attending a few more meets etc this year, and organise more rings and rays. Although the rays I’ve just advertised on the forum have had a pretty rubbish take up. I  may have fallen at the first hurdle however – as I was planning on going to the Coventry meet up this weekend, but now I have found out the station is a long way from the transport museum – anyone know any different? I am hopeless at finding my way to things – so if it’s complicated I may not go after all.

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