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by Josephine Mandarano (subscribe)
Melbourne writer, reader and Managing Editor of Lip Magazine.
Published July 28th 2010
Writer Henry Miller once said: "A book is not only a friend, it makes a friend for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold."

Enter BookCrossing.

It is book club meets treasure hunt and is defined as "the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise." was launched in the USA in 2001 and currently has over 850,000 registered members in over 130 countries. While you must sign up to take part, it is free to join and allows you to release books you love and loathe into the world and send them on a journey they're not likely to have while collecting dust on your bookshelf.

You can visit their website to view the lengthy list of countries with books "in the wild", and you'll be able to see just how many registered books are out there (895 in Australia alone), as well as the most travelled books. (At present, number one is German title Der seltsame Bücherfreund.)

BookCrossing provides a "free, green and easy way to tag and follow your literature" and, truth be told, it's exhilarating when you think about how many hands will hold your book, how many eyes will read the words and how many hearts will fall in love with the stories. Romantic, I know.

But enough of that! How do I sign up?" you ask. Well, quite simply:

Register on their website. You'll be asked to create a Username. You can use your real name or keep it anonymous as I have. You'll be sent a confirmation email and, hey presto! – you're a member!

Next, personalise your profile page.

Start BookCrossing! Choose a book from your shelf, register it and send it on its way. Pass it on to a friend, leave it on a park bench or on a table at your local cafe – it's up to you. And you can specify exactly where you've left your book and send other BookCrossers on a treasure hunt.

When you find a book, enter its unique ID number into the search box and find out where it has been. Then read it (or don't!), journal it, and send it on its way again! You'll be notified when it has been found.

Too easy, and the website is simple to use once you get the hang of it.

As for my own BookCrossing adventures, I plan to set my first book free when I head over to the USA later this year. And here's a heads-up for my fellow BookCrossers: I'll leave my book beneath the Alice in Wonderland sculpture in New York City's Central Park. You'll have to wait and see what it is. I wonder who will find it...

Happy hunting, booklovers!
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Why? Make the whole world a library
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Great article and great idea. I just signed up! I have a room full of books I don't want to throw away but would love to share with the world - and who knows it might be a way to meet new and interesting people.
By Dora Bona - senior reviewer
Sunday, 6th of March @ 12:25 am
Wow what an absolutely wonderful idea, I know when backpacking, alot of people leave books they have read to share with others. It can be a great way of reading really interesting books. Thankyou. I might join this one.
By Jody Kimber - senior reviewer
Sunday, 20th of March @ 11:14 pm
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