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 made 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).