Bookcrossing Uncon: T minus 3 days


I joined Bookcrossing back in 2003 whilst living in Dublin, Ireland, after seeing an article in the Financial Times about it – it was this kooky idea of “the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise”. (My “shelf” can be found here)

I then didn’t do anything for a year or so, but decided to go back to it – in part because I was reading a stupid number of books, but also I decided that I needed to get a better work/life balance, and wanted someone to go out drinking with. Books and alcohol seemed to be a perfect combination! I therefore set up BCIE (Bookcrossing Ireland), concentrating on Dublin as that’s where I was, and within 2 years, there was a fabulous crowd meeting on a regular basis, often getting very drunk in the process!

At the time the “Conventions” were only being held in the US, but the non-US people still wanted to meet up, so the “Unconventions” (i.e. “not-the-convention”) happened.

By the time I came back to the UK in 2006, I had already attended one “Unconvention” in Birmingham (2005?) and had met many of the bookcrossers that I had only communicated with on the forums. The Birmingham Bookcrossers allowed me to have a group of “ready made” friends which allowed me to settle back into the UK.   It’s also allowed us to support local independent coffee shops along the way, where they have allowed us to set up bookshelves (OBCZs) for the safe storage and exchange of books. As with many of the active local groups, there are monthly meetings held around the city, and we are currently meeting in 3threes in Martineau Place, Birmingham.

With approx 1700 books registered, and more released, I’m not the top of the list in terms of registering, capturing and releasing, but also not at the bottom. I have too many books for me to realistically pick up any more at any of the monthly meetings, but I do try and bring new books into the mix, to make sure there is something different.

I have been to a couple of Unconventions in the UK (couple in Birmingham, one in Leeds, and the Convention in London), but haven’t madeBook Buffet Table it to all. Often, by the time I got to find out I could go, it was too late to sign up.  However, I’ve managed to arrange to have the time off for the 2016 Uncon that’s happening in Birmingham this weekend. There are people coming from the UK, Ireland and Western Europe, many of whom I’ve met before and some that I haven’t!  

We have a number of local authors giving talks, as well as plenty of games (usually book related, naturally), goodie bags etc.

One of the things that happens is the “book buffet” table (see right), where the bookcrossers bring some/all of their available books, lay them out, and then the other attendees pick up the books that they fancy reading. Those that are left have, traditionally, been released on the Sunday during release walks, but as we are meeting the week before the Conservative Party convention, we wont be doing it this year, and will be using alternative arrangements.

If you want to know more about bookcrossing, or find out about a local group, there are a number of ways:

  • Go to Bookcrossing itself, and go to the forums
  • You can also find the official Bookcrossing group on Facebook.
  • If you are in the UK, there is a Bookcrossing UK public group on Facebook that you can join
  • If you are in Birmingham, there is a BCBrum group on Facebook (I cant find the public group link ATM, sorry).








4 thoughts on “Bookcrossing Uncon: T minus 3 days

  1. Ive heard of this – usually via HeavenAli who may belong to the same Birmingham group that you do – but never been really sure how it works. What do you do with the book you want to release – if I leave it on a bench somewhere or in a cafe, wont it just get stuffed into the rubbish? there are no groups around my area it seems for me to do friendly meet ups with or have i not looked in the right place (i looked at the UK Facebook group)


    • You register the book on the site (which generates a unique number), and then leave it on a park bench, coffee shop table, on a shelf in Sainsburys etc. Yes there is always a risk that it will be destroyed in some way – we’ve found books left behind that have been subsequently set fire to, or agitated council workers following us with a bin – this year, we wont be doing a walk in the city centre for this very reason.

      We work hard with the local coffee shops etc to have “OBCZs” where we get to leave books on dedicated shelves. We know they wont be thrown out, the shops have “free” books they dont have to manage, and people know where to visit and support if they’re in the area.

      Another “safer” way of releasing the book is to check people’s wishlists and offer the book to someone who wants it. It’s a nice way to interact with people on the site whilst knowing you’re going to get your book caught.

      The Uk Facebook is relatively small – think there’s 300 people on there, out of a potential 93,000 people in the UK (not all of them active to be fair).

      I set up the Irish group back in the day before twitter etc, and it was a case of setting a yahoo group up and then sending a Private Message on the Site to everyone in Dublin, and inviting them to join. I dont know where you live (you dont have to tell me) but there may be one near you, albeit quiet, or if you really want – set up a group (doesnt have to be a bookcrossing one!) and invite locals along!


      • thanks for that detailed response Nordie – I managed to find a few coffee shops that follow the OBCZ approach and have connected with a woman who runs one of them. she said they tried to set up a group but didnt get any interest. anyway we are going to meet up just the two of us. she is going to your Birmingham event by the way – her user name is Cassiopaeia and she runs the book crossing at Cafe 1 in Cardiff, Wales


  2. I think I’ve met Cassie before, but I’ll make the effort to say hi this weekend.

    Hope you get something good from your meet, it’s always better to meet a seasoned pro to talk about these things. You never know – if nothing else you find some great new places old and new friends, know a safe place to leave books, and hopefully resist the temptation to take some away! When you see Cassie, ask her to explain Bookcrossing maths to you! (Or I will if you want!)


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