What is BookCrossing?
From the first book registered in the USA in 2001, BookCrossing has grown to attract millions of members across the globe, who have registered many millions of books.
BookCrossing means many different things to different people, but at it’s heart it is the act of registering books and then setting them free to begin a journey around the world. It is officially defined as ‘the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise’.
Registering a book on the BookCrossing website provides a unique ID number which can be used to track the book’s travels. Each person who receives the book can make journal entries to share their experience and views with the rest of the BookCrossing community, including everyone who has held that book before. Many journal entries are entertaining and beautiful in their own right and can bring great joy to those whose hands the book has already passed through.
When someone is ready to pass a book on they can either ‘release it to the wild’ (by leaving it anywhere from a shopping centre to the top of a mountain) or make a ‘controlled release’ by handing or sending it to a named individual.
BookCrossing has become much more than just registering and releasing books and now encompasses everything from competition releases, sweepstakes and secret parcel swaps to local, national and international meet-ups. This is where the annual Convention comes in.
What is The BookCrossing Convention?
An international Convention is held every year on the anniversary of BookCrossing first coming to life, and the event attracts BookCrossers from around the world. It is an opportunity for the attendees to share their love of books and meet up with friends old and new, with a range of exciting book related activities thrown in, as well as an introduction to the local culture of the host city.
Since 2004, the Convention has been hosted by the following cities/countries, with links to the respective websites where available:
- Melbourne (2014)
- Gothenburg (2013)
- Dublin (2012)
- Washington, DC (2011)
- Amsterdam (2010)
- New Zealand (2009)
- London (2008)
- Charleston, SC (2007)
- Toronto (2006)
- Fort Worth, TX (2005)
- St. Louis, MO (2004)
What Happens at The Convention?
The Convention traditionally takes place over a long weekend in early April, from registration on Friday afternoon to the traditional closing with a release walk at lunchtime on Sunday. With some attendees travelling halfway round the world, there are usually events for ‘early birds’ from the Thursday or before and for ‘hangers on’ beyond Sunday in addition to other optional events during the weekend.
Sharing books is one of the key themes of any BookCrossing event and the Convention allows people to do this in abundance via bookswap games, Not So Secret (secret santa style) parcel swaps, gifts for other attendees, release events and a massive book buffet table (or often a whole room full of them).
Author talks are arranged, allowing BookCrossers to meet the writers of some of their favourite works, or learn more about authors whose books they haven’t tried before. Often the authors will have links to the host city and they are always supporters of the BookCrossing movement.
In addition there are many other activities including competitions and quizzes, with a number of unique events to each Convention along the way.
And last but not least, there’s the all important chance to meet other BookCrossers – some of whom may be old faces and others who may have only been ‘met’ online in the past.
The international Convention is a fantastic social event for anyone with a love of books – and if you’ve read this far, then we hope to see you in Oxford in 2015!