Bookcrossing: Set your books free!
Translated by Elisavet Kechagia
Based on the original article in Greek by Αθηνά Δημητρού
ToquoteMarcus Tullius Cicero,“a room without books is like a body without a soul”. If you conquer a book with your mind and spirit, you are rich indeed. If you get to share one though, your riches are tripled. That is what Bookcrossing strives for: an accessible worldwide book-sharing system. Each book passes on from reader to reader, uniting people and places as it goes. All this by simply registering the book for free in the system, and getting an individual number unique to each book so as to monitor its destinations! Today there exist 12.415.499 books around the world that have travelled to 132 countries. Bookcrossing is free to enter and also offers pro bonoentertainment, since you get to see the journey of forgotten, dust-covered books towards their new owners.
How it all began
It was Ron Hornbaker’s idea upon his realisation that no such thing existed as a book-tracking system akin to those used for dollars at the stock market. Thus, in April 21st of 2001, Bruce and Heather Petersen set off a book-tracking website, because books are more than some pages and a cover. They possess “a living soul”, can be opinionated much like people are, and imprint themselves on the mind of the reader with strong bonds. Through the site and by extension global networking, they are gathered and appreciated, but most importantly they are properly shared.
The number of Bookcrossers is estimated around 463.711. They are members of a team based in Idaho that has registered 3.023.352 books, and are situated in various countries around the world even the cold reaches of Antarctica! Yet, there wouldn’t be successful running of the website without the generous Bookcrossing volunteers, who assist in question management in the support section, various projects and promoting the movement. Overall, the members tend to be pioneers and among the most kind, eccentric and educated people in the world with a heart of gold and a green mind.
The percentages of the registered members of each country will speak for themselves: the largest percentage of Bookcrossers is that of the United States of America that mounts up to 29%, followed by Germany’s 16%. Next is the United Kingdom with 13%, 11% in Holland, 10% in Finland, 8% in Canada and 5% in Australia. Last but not least, we have France with 4%, Portugal with 3% and Spain with 1%.
Books change people and they in turn can change the world
Signing up to the site is free. English is its main language, but there exist multilingual forums so as for the members to communicate and help each other efficiently. The process? A piece of cake. You simply provide an email and a password, nothing of which appears on the site save an alias of your choice. What does appear are the BCID codes of your books, through which you can find out the current owners of the books and their next destination. Lastly, in “Go Hunting” you can check which books have been set free in order to claim them!
This is your chance to combine adventure with solidarity by reading books free of charge. And as bookworms like to say: A reader lives a thousand lives before they die. The man who never reads, lives only one.