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September 5, 2003
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In this issue...

what do jessica adams and neil gaiman not have in common?

As many of you know, BookCrossing has occasionally met with controversy regarding its perceived effect on the book-selling industry. I thought all the nay-sayers had been put to rest, but a recent article by quotes author Jessica Adams complaining that "[BookCrossing's] growth should be a worry for authors and for charity bookshops who rely on secondhand books for their income." (Read the entire article here.)

This sparked animated conversation by BookCrossers in our Yahoo Group discussion list and our online discussion forum. My favorite comments from those discussions: "Please add my name to the I-never-heard-of-Jessica-Adams-but-if-I-ever-come-across-one-of-her-books-I-won't-buy-it list," and "[Jessica Adams will] simply end up with a 155,726-member strong boycott," and "This author is clueless. I've definitely spent more on books since joining BookCrossing!!"

A UK industry heavy-weight, Joel Rickett at The Guardian, voiced his opinion as "The fears are understandable, but misplaced. There is only an infinitesimal chance that the person who finds a 'released' book would have otherwise bought the same title, and the industry has long survived alongside second-hand bookselling and lending. If Bookcrossing lasts, the number of books that are left and then picked up will remain small. However, the vast network of reviews, discussions and reading groups that have grown up around the site have helped fuel word-of-mouth bestsellers such as Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. There's even evidence that Bookcrossing adds sales: aficionados of the site buy multiple copies of new books to randomly distribute." (Read the entire article here.)

Finally (for now), my favorite BookCrossing defender is no less than A-list UK author Neil Gaiman, who writes "I think [BookCrossing is] a great idea and a wonderful thing that books are in motion and getting read, and getting passed on from reader to reader. And I love the idea of just leaving a book on a bench for anyone to find... Booksales are booksales, readers are readers, and the two things aren't exactly the same. I'd rather look after my readers and let the booksales take care of themselves." (from Neil's weblog)

Agree with Neil? Click here to buy one of his books (I can highly recommend American Gods.)

anonymous finders pouring in

Last week, I announced the new Anonymous Finder feature on the website, which allows catchers of books to make a quick journal entry without disclosing their email address or having to choose a screen name. The system is apparently working well, and I've been happy to see all the positive feedback in the forums. We'll let it go for at least another couple of weeks, then I'll do some statistical analysis and make sure we're getting an increased number of catches vs. the old way. By simple rough estimation it appears that the catch rate is indeed higher, and many Anonymous Finders are subsequently joining the site. You can keep an eye on all the Anonymous Finder catches on the AnonymousFinder bookshelf page (we're up to 687 catches so far):

cliff1976 joins the bookcrossing team

I'm please to finally tell you that it's cliff1976 who has been helping me with website programming, support, and feature planning over the last several weeks. Many of you know him, since he's been a BookCrosser since September 2002 and has developed BookCrossing member resources on his own website (which is how I came to meet him). After spending a day on the lake here with him (you don't really know someone until you fish with them), I knew he could be a vital contributor to BookCrossing's growth and future success.

cliff1976 is working part-time for BookCrossing right now, answering requests for member support, developing new website and membership features, and improving content (e.g. the new FAQs list). He's doing his best to keep up with support email, which from experience I can assure you is a tall order. Learn more about him on his bookshelf at

ok, your FINAL last chance for forgotten lore bookplates

Our 4th-edition bookplate labels, featuring original art by Tess Garman, are still in stock, but will run out in the next 4-6 days. There will absolutely, positively not be another chance to buy this edition of our bookplates by this time next week. So if you like Forgotten Lore:

Forgotten Lore

get over to our Supply Store and buy either a pack of the new bookplate labels or a Release Kit that includes bookmarks and sticky-notes along with the bookplate labels.

What the new bookplates look like:

Supply Store:

More info on Tess:

Are you an artist? If you'd like your art to be featured on a future Bookplate series, and you haven't contacted us yet, please send an email to along with links to your work. In exchange for the considerable exposure you'll get here, and in the future on those 50,000 traveling books, we ask for only the original artwork, which we'll auction to further help support BookCrossing.

remember the firefighters with SSM4

With September 11 looming, it seems appropriate that this week's Sunday Sunset Mission should tie-in and be re-scheduled to next Thursday, September 11. Please understand that I realize BookCrossing is a global activity, and that 9/11 is a US-centric political hotbed in many ways, but I think we all can agree on at least one thing: that heroic firefighters around the world who give life and limb to save helpless victims are deserving of our praise, and deserving of a good read during the many hours they spend waiting on their chance to be heroic. So with that said I give you SSM4:

  • RELEASE ZONE: A fire station near you
  • RELEASE METHOD: A well-labeled book left outside the door, and protected from the elements as needed. EXTRA CREDIT: a handwritten note inside expressing your appreciation for the work they do and the risks they take on our behalf.
  • RELEASE TIME: Next Thursday, September 11th, at Sunset wherever you live.

If you don't have an appropriate book handy, might I suggest this one:

The Brave
The Brave: A Story of New York City's Firefighters
Buy at,,

The 10 Rules of Sunday Sunset Missions:

  1. Don't talk about SSMs!
  2. Don't talk about SSMs! (for Project Mayhem fans)
  3. Be on time! You can get the exact sunset time from
  4. Label the books properly. At the minimum, this means a sticky-note on the outside making it clear that the book is FREE and NOT LOST (don't write anything on the outside to cause others alarm!), and a good, descriptive label inside the cover explaining BookCrossing and including the BCID for the book.
  5. If possible, choose a book with content appropriate to the release location.
  6. If possible, print out one of the press articles from and include it with the book (the Utne Reader or Reader's Digest articles work well).
  7. Take pictures! Those of you with digital cameras, try to take a picture of the release zone with books, upload it with your journal entry, and make a post with the journal entry link in the new SSMs forum at
  8. Be safe! Use your common sense, and don't do anything to endanger persons or property.
  9. Pay attention to the media the following day or two, try to note any mention of the SSM, and post such mentions to the SSM forum.
  10. And finally, have fun!

As always, Happy 'Crossing!

Ron Hornbaker
Founder and Editor,

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