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This is one of the nicest odd notions to come out of the Internet. The idea is to leave a book in a public place with a note of how to log on to the Bookcrossing site to record where and when you found it and what you thought of it. After you’ve read it, you then “release” the book for a new reader — perhaps by giving it to a friend, leaving it on a park bench, in a coffee shop or some other public place, or by donating it to charity. The Bookcrossing site describes itself as a cross between a book club, a reading group and an attempt to turn the whole world into a library. The idea was taken up in the UK in August by Urbis, the centre for the urban experience, based in Manchester. They released several hundred books into the city. Within three weeks, one of their books had been reported from Tangiers and another from Bangkok.

Unlike music or movie file swapping bookcrossing is unlikely to face the wrath of the publishing industry. I don’t think that passing books on to friends is illegal (at least I hope not) and this site is only likely to encourage people to read more not less.

Birmingham Post, 11 March 2003

Bookcrossing strikes at one of the industry’s darkest fears: that there are already enough books in the world. Some authors have voiced anxieties about the phenomenon.

Guardian, 30 Aug. 2003

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 27 Sep. 2003

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-boo1.htm
Last modified: 27 September 2003.