After I leave The Big Trip on the bench, I hang around for a while. It's like a kid on its first day of school and I'll admit it can be a little hard to let go, to leave it to fend for itself in the world. Strangers walk past looking at it oddly, then move on. Two passing early birds from the gym see it point and I overhear one say something about "terrorism". And I'm thinkng if I don't get out of here soon my first experiment in setting a book into the wild will end alarmingly.
Bookcrossing (or BCing or BX depending on your street cred and character count) is a way to swap books with complete strangers and log them online to see where a book travels. It began back in 2001 when Ron Hornbaker decided he needed the shelf space at home and has been steadily building. In Australia, there's a small community of just over 1000 people dropping and collecting books from each other. But the network ranges as far as book finders from Brazil to Burkina Faso with travellers being the main movers of folios. It's like hitch-hiking for books or a library that won't stand still.
But right now my forlorn little book is going nowhere. I do another lap before farewelling it and thinking it'll just sit there for weeks being eyed suspiciously. I'm begining to doubt the kindness of strangers and even loving something then setting it free. But by the next time I log onto my computer there's an excited message from a BXer who wants to know exactly where I left it. It seems that when you log a book some BXers set up an alert on a certain area and can pounce on anything nearby. They even logged the find and promised to give me an update. I'm so chuffed I leave another copy in my Beautiful Laundrette on the way home.