The San Francisco Chronicle calls it, "a modern-day message in a bottle."
Book Magazine calls it, "an unlikely global sociology experiment."
Have you heard of BookCrossing? It's the world's library, and if you live in (or are traveling to) one of 132 countries that currently participate, you're ready to sign up!
Imagine you wander into a tiny bar in Pamplona, Spain. It's filled with people, high stools, tapas, and eclectic artwork. You sit down with your cerveza or sangria and pick up the book at the end of the bar. It's Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. The inside cover states, "I'm not lost. I'm on a journey." It has a "BookCrossing" ID number and a little info about the program inside.
You pick up the book, give it a read, and drop it off in Dublin, Ireland the following week. Or in a tiny cheese shop in Paris, France. Or in a Chicago pizza place. Someone else picks it up and does the same thing.
It's the ultimate Catch & Release program for readers. You can register online and start sending your own donated books into the world (after assigning them an ID number). Then you can use the registry to see where BCID'd (Book Crossing ID) books are.
Want an excuse to travel to Japan (currently has 28 books), Finland (792 books), or Brazil (884 books)? Tell your employer, "Yeah, Dave. Um, I'm gonna have to take three weeks off. I gotta go hunt down a few books." There's currently one in the Dead Sea area of Jordan if anyone feels like going on a treasure hunt.
The United Kingdom currently has 80,000 members. The USA has nearly 320,000 members. Canada is at 43,000 members and Spain has 35,000. Care to be the next member?
Here are links to more information:
Country Member Page (hunt for books)
Frequently Asked Questions
Note: In certain areas, there are designated "crossing zones" to leave books, but some listed locations remain very general. There is no guarantee that your book will be found. Right now, because the program is fairly new, the percentage is around 20-25%, depending on where it's put and how it's labeled (for instance, if you're in a coffee shop, tell an employee what you're doing by leaving the book there--they can tell other customers about the program).
Happy Book hunting, finding, catching, & releasing!