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January 16, 2004
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In this issue...


new features for everyone in BC v3!

Thanks to all the great feedback from members who used the beta version during the last few weeks, BookCrossing.com v3 is now live!

http://www.bookcrossing.com/

And the best part? The new features are available to all members, regardless of Wings status. We listened to your feedback regarding the limitation of features to Wings members, and in the end agreed with the majority that essential functionality features, like Book Status Management, should be available to all members all the time. So, that's the way it's going to be from now on.

The new v3 site sports a cleaner, stylesheet-driven design, with fewer images and smaller pages, so you should notice a speed improvement (as long as our traffic isn't extra-high, as it has been the last few days due to extra press). Those of you using very old browsers, or untraditional browsers like text readers, cell phones, or PDAs, will be happy to see the availability of an unstyled, plain-text version of the site at http://plaintext.bookcrossing.com/.

The menu system has been designed for convenience and fewer page loads. On the left side of every page, you'll see a menu of major topics. You can expand each of these topics by clicking on the little triangle to the left, displaying the subtopics. Your menu expansion preferences will "stick" with a cookie, meaning that you can keep your favorite menus open as you navigate the site.

Book Status Management lets you set specific statuses (like To Be Read, Available, Reserved, Permanent Collection, and Traveling) on books in your possession, making it easy to both organize your own bookshelf and search for available books belonging to others.

The updated Forum (http://www.bookcrossing.com/forum) has new options to suit any viewing preference, incorporating the featues of the old forums while keeping the best of the new.

The Hot Threads list is displayed on the left side of every page, showing you at a glance the hottest topics in the discussion forums. This makes it easy for you to jump into the fray of whatever topic catches your fancy.

Got ideas for more new features?
Now that we have the site designed around a more orderly, easily-managed architecture, our attention going forward in 2004 is going to be on adding new features! As always, we need your feedback to know exactly what you want from the BookCrossing.com website. Please use the Feature Requests forum to give us your ideas:

http://www.bookcrossing.com/forum/3
When making a feature request there, first look to see if someone has already started a thread that comes close to your desired feature, so you don't need to start a new thread. If you do start a new thread, make the subject line very descriptive. If you do not want a new feature that's described in a thread, simply don't reply to that thread. The more active threads will automatically "bubble" to the top of the threads list, and those of us behind the scenes will be able to spot the most popular requests easily. And as you've seen with the Book Status Management feature, we do listen!


global membership stats - big milestone reached

Have a look at the membership numbers at the top of this newsletter - BookCrossing just topped 200,000 members a few days ago! The new year has brought with it lots of press and lots of enthusiasm, and we've been adding between 350 and 650 members daily for the last few days. The Terry & Gaby Show (daytime TV in the UK) has picked us up for a weekly segment, and we're currently featured in three magazines: Smart Computing (Feb 2004), Writer's Digest, and Woman's Day. So, if the site feels a little slow, now you know why. (Don't worry, we'll be adding more servers to our hardware farm in the near future.)

Here's the latest breakdown of BookCrossing members by country...

Top 10 All-Time
USA 106,499 (52%)
CANADA 15,289 (8%)
UNITED KINGDOM 13,283 (7%)
GERMANY 10,250 (5%)
ITALY 10,050 (5%)
SPAIN 8,994 (4%)
AUSTRALIA 6,144 (3%)
PORTUGAL 2,601 (1%)
NETHERLANDS 2,428 (1%)
FRANCE 2,313 (1%)

Top 10 Last Week
USA 1,439 (50%)
SPAIN 328 (11%)
UNITED KINGDOM 170 (6%)
CANADA 162 (6%)
GERMANY 118 (4%)
AUSTRALIA 94 (3%)
SINGAPORE 75 (3%)
ITALY 64 (2%)
AUSTRIA 57 (2%)
NEW ZEALAND 39 (1%)



champion referrer since last newsletter

Veruca

Since the last newsletter 2 weeks ago, our champion new member referrer was 25-yr-old veruca from Austin, Texas. A member since August 2002, veruca is a tireless referrer with 77 new members referred all-time, 21 of whom joined BookCrossing.com since our last newsletter. She also has a nice web page entitled Veruca's BookCrossing Tips and Techniques (http://www.shinybluegrasshopper.com/bookcrossing.html), which focuses on release techniques and locations.

You can visit her bookshelf here:

http://www.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/veruca

We'll be sending veruca a $50 gift certificate from our BookCrossing Supply Store, your source for Release Kits, Bookplate Labels, Bookmarks, Sticky-notes, or Stamps. And of course Wings will be earned (or in veruca's case, renewed) with the order.

Want to win the $50 prize next week? Get busy referring people! Our Tell-a-Friend form is the best place to start:

http://www.bookcrossing.com/tellafriend


jump on the sunday sunset mission bus

The Christmas Tree-related SSM12 generated lots of neat stories and pictures. Find all the SSM12 reports in our forum, here:

http://www.bookcrossing.com/forumsearch/?content=SSM12

This week's SSM13 was suggested by dathasgirl from Douglasville, Georgia, in a forum post, and it's highly appropriate for the US holiday coming next Monday. I think it will be appreciated by our international members, too, as the "man behind the holiday," such an icon for civil and social rights, championed a message heard around the world. Here's one of my favorite quotes of his:

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?"
       - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
So, without further ado, here is your SSM13 assignment:
  • RELEASE ZONE: A public bus or bus stop near you.
  • RELEASE METHOD: Leave a book, preferably one related to civil rights or, ideally, about Dr. King himself, on the seat of a bus or bus stop near you. If the bus stop is uncovered, protect the book from the elements putting it in a clear plastic bag. Make sure you label the book clearly on the outside, letting people know that it is a Free Book. Do not put any message on the outside that will cause alarm to others.
  • RELEASE TIME: This Sunday, January 18th, at sunset in your part of the world.

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 http://www.weather.com/.
  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 http://www.bookcrossing.com/press 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 SSM forum at http://www.bookcrossing.com/forum/21.
  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, BookCrossing.com






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