Thursday, 14 May 2009

Get and give a free read.

Advantages: It is a bit of fun. You get free books.

Disadvantages: If you enjoy this sort of thing, there are not really any disadvantages

Do you ever find your self in that situation where you have clutter lying around the house and you don't know what to do with it? 

Right the first thing I do is to get it on and try to make a few quid. The thing is though, some of that clutter tends to be books, which don't tend to sell quickly on online auctions sites. 

So as far as books go, I might be left with boxes of books cluttering up the place. I generally end up taking them to the charity shop or the dump. This is where the guilt kicks in. 

So, how can you feel guilty about giving to charity. The truth is most books donated to the big High Street charity shops get dumped if they are not sold with in a certain short time - they don't even get recycled, just put in the rubbish. I would rather see a book being READ. 

So now I might just give them away, using 

This website allows you to register your spare books on their database. When you register yourself with bookcrossing, you will be given a 'virtual shelf' to store your registered books on. Each registered book is given a unique number (a 'BCID', or Bookcrossing ID). 

What you do when you have registered a book is give it away, but in a specific way. First you need to put a label on the book explaing in some details about bookcrossing and the BCID. You then leave the book at a bookcrossing point, either of your choosing or one that is already familiar to bookcrossers. 

You then go home and look up the book on your bookcrossing 'shelf'. Here you will be able to make an entry to say where you left the book, and most importantly in which town. 

The next part of the book's journey is for it to be found (or 'caught'). 

Hopefully the person who has found it will take it home and read it and (if they are not already a bookcrosser) follow the instructions you have put on your BCID label. 

This should instruct the finder to log onto and, either anonymously, or as a bookcrossing member to go to your books BCID and add comments, but most importantly for them to state where they are going to leave the book should they decide to pass it on. 

Now the reason for stating where the book will be left, rather than just leaving it somewhere to be found, is that 'Bookcrossers' as they are known can look up books that have been left in their town, then pop out to 'catch' the book. 

It would be too easy to see what a pointless website this is. Book clutter - dump 'em! would be the easy answer for most. For many though as well as getting a free read and passing on a free read, it is a little bit of fun seeing how far round the world your book has progressed - the reality is: this doesn't happen often. 

Bookcrossing though does, if you want, offer a great chance to meet other people and has a reasonably good forum community, and meet-ups are organised - not my thing, but for many this is fine it would seem. Some charities actually offer themselves as a bookcrossing point, though I am unsure if the books are charged for. 

I personally can't be bothered with too much participation. Once in a blue moon I will log on and say i will be leaving this-or-that book at such-and-such a place - help yourself! 

Another point, although this isn't a criticism of the people who run the site. It must be borne in mind that by participating in the site, you are generating traffic for the site owner's which translates into money for them probably through Amazon affiliation (of that I am not sure, but it seems so), and through the online sales of their own products such as labels and bookmarks. I realise that the owner's aren't running this website for love, but you must remember, your activity is earning them money. Are you comfortable not getting a cut of it? 

With regards to finding a free read, the reality is it rarely happens. Most books are left in cafes. The staff either grab them (which is fair, they have been 'released'). but don't re-release them, or the cleaners stick them straight in the bin. 

For me the reality is: 

I will try and flog my spare books on 
I will buy my cheap reads on ebid for a quid or two, rather than spend out on a bus into town, to track down a book (that has already been 'caught' by the time I get there, in a cafe, where I will probably spend a fiver+ on a coffee and a muffin. 
So, CHOOSING a book on ebid £2+£1P&P = £3.00 total 
'FREE' book via bookcrossing which I can't really choose. £4 return bus fare + £5 for cofee and muffin + book taken anyway = £9.00+no book. Not so free after all. 

I will be releasing books on bookcrossing for those that want a 'free' read courtesy of me, but I am sticking to ebid for buying a read of my choice.

Summary: Another internet pastime really

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