Becoming a published writer has opened windows onto all sorts of amazing new communities. If it hadn’t been for LyzzeeBee’s review of my novel for my publisher’s website, I might never have heard of one of the book-world’s most fascinating and subversive organisations: The Bookcrossers. If you click on this link you’ll find what they say about themselves and their activities.
I use the word ‘subversive’ because of the way they’ve spread themselves across the globe, discussing and recommending the books they’ve enjoyed (and those they haven’t), both on-line and in groups, face to face, distributing their treasures from hand to hand in a wide range of inventive ways, beyond the reaches of the orthodox book-trade.
OK, you might say, so they leave their books on park benches for someone else to pick up. They actually give books away! So why would any author want to encourage more people to pass books on to total strangers instead of getting them to part with their money and buy the product of their months or years of labour, their un-put-downable novel?
Firstly, authors want their books to be read, and to stumble across a recent review, long after your book has disappeared from the book shops, gives a shot of delight and adrenalin that spurs you on with your latest writing project.
Secondly, Bookcrossers tend to be avid collectors , and will often buy their own copy of a book that they’ve sent out on a journey. I was amazed to find out about Book-rings (I think I’ve got that name right) where fellow bookcrossers are invited to include their names on a list to receive a copy by post. The first thing I heard was that mine had made its way across the Atlantic. That same copy eventually arrived back in Birmingham,via Canada and Scotland. An awesome thought for a humble author!
Thirdly, the Bookcrossers I’ve met are friendly and enthusiastic people and provide opportunities to meet others of like mind in welcoming social situations around the world. At my first ever meeting at a cosy coffee house in the middle of Birmingham on the eve of their Unconvention in 2006, I met people, not just from all over the British Isles and Europe, but also from America and Australia.
The following year I was invited to speak at the Unconvention in Brighton. Up until 2008, the main Convention was always held in the US, but in April that year the venue was London, and I felt very privileged to speak there too, with some other Transita authors, including Susie Vereker,Alison Hoblyn and Adrienne Dines.
A few weeks ago, I was alerted to another journey that my book was making, and I was again delighted to read some more reviews that showed it was still being enjoyed in June this year.
Here’s a flavour of what a Book-ring journey is like!
Journal entry 13 by garibaldisghost from Nottingham, January 13, 2009
I really enjoyed this very readable, somewhat unusual but ultimately feelgood and heartwarming story. A further bonus being that some of it is set in Nottingham - my home town. All in all a fairly good start to 2009.
book rating: ********
Journal entry 15 by jazz-ee2 from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I know of this through the BookCrossing Convention, where I met Christine Coleman, and had intended to buy the book but somehow didn’t. I look forward to reading it, then passing on to Angellica.
I read this book last week and while it was a little predictable I did enjoy it. There was a bit where it started to drag, and then picked up nicely - maybe it could have been a little shorter? I did love all the characters, and only hope I’m as active as Agnes when I get to her age!
To take to the Nottingham BookCrossers book meet to pass on to another BookCrosser who had said they wanted to read it.
book rating: *******
Journal entry 16 by Beebarf from Sheffield, South Yorkshire United Kingdom on Saturday, June 20, 2009
Passed onto me at the meet, as it is a book from my wishlist.I started reading it on the train home, and I’m loving it so far - really rooting for Agnes! The Nottingham link is good, but part of the book is set not far from Horsham, where I lived for 10 years, so I know all about the (lack of) bus service - no wonder Agnes chose to hitchhike :O)
Journal entry 17 by Beebarf from Sheffield, South Yorkshire United Kingdom on Friday, July 10, 2009
I really enjoyed this light read - I want to be an Agnes when I get old :o)
I’ll take this to the next Nottingham meet, as I think someone else wants to read it.
book rating: *******