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February 4, 2004
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The best news this week is that we've made serious perfomance enhancements to the website. If you haven't been on in the last week or so, you really should give it a try, because the difference is quite noticeable.

Why did we do it? Because traffic is up almost 100% as compared to November and December. The web server is currently receiving sustained loads of over 25 requests per second. Before we made the performance optimizations, it wasn't able to keep up with the heaviest peaks. Now it is.

How did we do it? By caching database queries in webserver RAM whenever possible and for as long as practical, instead of hitting the two database servers on every page load. For example, the Go Hunting pages previously hit the database servers directly on every page load, and with our increasing number of release records these pages were taking 2-6 seconds to calculate and start returning to your browser. Now, the queries are cached for 20 minutes, and the result is nearly instantaneous responses. You'll notice these optimizations all over the site, and we're continuing to implement them where necessary.

What's next to keep up with the traffic? We'll be adding another web server in a load-balanced cluster. Fun, fun, fun. :)


Just two short days ago, we launched the new BookCrossing Articles feature on the site, where members like you can submit a BookCrossing-related article for publication — and just look at the results! Already we've published these 18 great articles, and if you get busy and submit your own article for us, you could see it featured here in the next newsletter. What topics do we need? Anything about books, reading, or BookCrossing — tutorials, release and catch stories, well-traveled book stories, funny BookCrossing experience stories — you name it. Write it up, then submit it here:

How I Discovered BookCrossing
by Amy Coxe (sparky-redhead)

The value of the media coverage that has helped BookCrossing membership explode recently cannot be overstated. Infinitely more inspiring and enchanting, however, are the stories of the serendipitous discovery of this wonderful online library and community. The people that find out about BookCrossing by actually catching a wild release are truly fortunate. What follows is only one of these stories:...

[read it all at]


Bookcrossing: un manera de fomentar la lectura muy solidaria.
by Maclet

El índice de lectura en España es de los más bajos del mundo. Esta afirmación ha sido escuchada y/o leída en centenares de ocasiones a través de los medios de comuncación social. Sin embargo, las ventas de libros son cada vez mayores. ¿Cómo se explica esta enigmática paradoja?. Desde hace algún tiempo, ha nacido desde internet un nueva forma de fomentar la lectura: se llama BookCrossing. Nació en América, ¿dónde si no?: en el país de las grandes esperanzas y de las historias de pasión. Pero el hecho de empezar en América es secundario. Lo realmente importate es el eco y aceptación que ha tenido y sigue teniendo en todas partes, mejor dicho: en todo el mundo. En España está causando sensación, ciudades como Madrid y Barcelona ofrecen una actividad 'bookcrossiana' grandiosa. Otras ciudades como Valencia, Bilbao, Zaragoza, Murcia, etc. están recogiendo los frutos y siguen los pasos de la capital de España y de la ciudad condal....

[read it all at]

From a "nerd"
by rslicer

I write this as a thank you to everyone at Bookcrossing, who have allowed me to finally open up my heart and my shelf, sharing my love of books and my thirst for knowledge with people around the world. In a time when reading is almost an underground activity, the exuberance expressed here with regards to books warms my heart. ...

[read it all at]

The BookCrossing craze spreads to Norwich (UK)
by jackshome

After joining the website in 2003, I was hooked! A year later and Norwich has become a BookCrossing hotspot, and I have enjoyed watching it grow. The community of BookCrossers here, both online and face-to-face, is fantastic! ...

[read it all at]

Authors need not fear the karma of free books
by Kathryn Lively (livelywriter)

I am a published author. I write every day. I read every day. I live every day for the joy of sharing not only what I write, but what I enjoy reading. When I discovered in April of 2002, I was intrigued by the concept of registering books on a website. Indeed, this was a concept not unfamiliar to me, as I had made a practice of keeping an online journal of books read for the past decade. The other, more engaging aspect of, however, triggered in me a greater sense of excitement, because I find no greater joy than the one experienced in sharing a good book....

[read it all at]


Was ik op zoek naar dit boek, of was het andersom?
by Klaartje

Sinds de zomer van 2003 ben ik lid van BookCrossing. Het idee van het doorgeven en ruilen van boeken leerde ik al eerder kennen, namelijk in 2000 tijdens een acht maanden durende, avontuurlijke reis door Afrika. Ik ben onderweg meer dan eens op zoek geweest naar een mooi boek voor onder de klamboe, maar dat er ooit een boek op zoek naar mij zou gaan had ik niet gedacht....

[read it all at]

Making friends around the world through BookCrossing
by mojosmom

Yes, it’s true. For too long, I dithered around, wanting to study Italian but never signing up for a class. Then I found BookCrossing, and now I am happily learning la lingua d’amore. What’s the connection? The Italian language forum! One of the reasons I put off taking a class was that I had no place to practice; now I hang out in that forum, and on the Italian mirror site as well, reading and occasionally even posting. What a warm welcome I’ve had there! No one laughs at my mistakes, but, knowing I’m a student, they politely correct me. And so I learn....

[read it all at]

Spreading literacy in the Midwest
by Juliann Wetz (mrsjones)

Milwaukee has a new virtual library and it’s growing every day! A group of book lovers have engaged in creating a free library of books that can be found in the most unusual places. They’ve discovered a website called and residents of Milwaukee are logging on every day....

[read it all at]

How one BookCrosser's mother learned about the generosity of our community
by N8an

Although my mother has always had a lot on her plate to try to deal with (myself, I'm sure, being no small part of that), she has a history of not saying anything about it. A couple of years ago, I spoke with her on the telephone shortly before her birthday, and I felt a little helpless hearing the tears in her voice....

[read it all at]

A handy-dandy list of places to release books for on-the-go BookCrossers!
by gwenhwyvar

Ever wish that you could remember all the nifty places to release books? Want those nifty places in a handy list format to print out and carry with you always? Well here it is folks — your very own Qwik-List of Releasing Ideas: ...

[read it all at]

One woman, one motorcycle, and some awfully big saddlebags
by Linda Gentile (WhiteRaven13)

This is the story of how a motorcycle trip gone wonky turned, as if by magic, into a web site — — about historical markers... and a quest to make around 1100 themed releases at California historical landmarks. It started with two broken gears....

[read it all at]

BookCrossing got me out of the house when nothing else could
by oldreader

March 2002 was a low energy point for me. As a cancer patient, I was recuperating from the effects of radiation treatment, and that was a good excuse to read more than ever....

[read it all at]

or, Books on ice
by Skyring

Somebody recently asked me what was the most peculiar place I've ever released a book. I've left books in strange places - bagged up and tossed into a midnight lake, on the top of a bushfire-ravaged mountain, a string of Encyclopaedia Britannica volumes along a bus route, but without a doubt, the oddest place I've released a book was inside the snout of a glacier....

[read it all at]


22 december 2003
by Moslog

Uit het bookcrossing dagboek:...

[read it all at]

How to enlighten someone's life with an unwanted book
by nrrdgrrl

I used to review books for a newspaper - youth books, the hard-to-get type, for youngsters age 13-17. It's a thin market for a group that's quite difficult to reach, being into reading instead of phones and fast food. ...

[read it all at]

The BookCrossing community is about far more than books
by ottawabill

I "discovered" bookcrossing in a Vancouver newspaper article one sunny August day on an ill-fated vacation in 2001. The idea appealed to me; with my library overflowing with books I no longer planned to read and no one who wanted them. But what caught my eye was the hint in the article that was also a gay-friendly environment. Gay people that were also booklovers? Could it be true?...

[read it all at]

Only the bravest need apply
by Amy Bartlett (symphonicca)

A posting with is not for homebodies. It is also not for those who are apprehensive about traveling long distances, uncomfortable with multiple partners, or are anxious about being abandoned in unfamiliar surroundings. To register with this website is to tempt fate at its most extreme and chaotic. Experience is not required. ...

[read it all at]

Which countries have the most BookCrossers per capita?
by FutureCat

When it comes to Bookcrossing, we all must bow down before the might of the United States, always at the top of the Bookcrossing league tables. Or must we? Sure, the USA has more Bookcrossers than anywhere else in the world, but it’s also a very big country. How would the figures look if we compared number of Bookcrossers to the size of the population?...

[read it all at]


Top 10 All-Time
USA 109,253 (52%)
CANADA 15,583 (7%)
UNITED KINGDOM 13,707 (7%)
GERMANY 11,205 (5%)
ITALY 10,175 (5%)
SPAIN 9,481 (5%)
AUSTRALIA 6,464 (3%)
PORTUGAL 2,649 (1%)
NETHERLANDS 2,463 (1%)
FRANCE 2,441 (1%)

Top 10 Last Week
USA 942 (42%)
GERMANY 280 (12%)
SPAIN 163 (7%)
AUSTRALIA 125 (6%)
CANADA 102 (5%)
ITALY 59 (3%)
FRANCE 51 (2%)


The new T-shirts and the new 7th-edition BookPlate labels are selling well, so if you haven't got yours yet, please help show your support for the site and make a purchase from our secure online store today:

Baby-T for the ladies Regular T-shirt for guys and gals

All colors and styles of t-shirts:

Our 7th-edition bookplate labels, featuring a reproduction of the charming Reading Dr. Seuss, an original pastel by artist Karen Barton, are still available in limited quantities:

Reading Dr. Seuss

You can order them either a la carté here:

or in Release Kits with Bookmarks and Sticky-notes here:

Are you an artist? If you'd like your art to be featured on a future Bookplate series, please contact us at 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.


Since the last newsletter 2 weeks ago, our champion new member referrer was Tamnkids from Gainesville, Missouri. A member since only December 29, 2003, Tamnkids has already referred 18 new members, 15 of whom joined since our last newsletter on January 27th.

You can visit Tamnkids' bookshelf here:

As a token of appreciation for helping us grow, we'll be sending Tamnkids a $50 gift certificate from our BookCrossing Supply Store. Want to win the $50 prize next newsletter? Get busy referring people! The best tactic: release lots of books so new members will find them and join. The next-best tactic: use our Tell-a-Friend form to quickly send an email invitation to everyone you know:


Well, I heard a lot of grumbling and dissent regarding last week's SSM14 (Superbowl/Supermarket release), mostly from international members who thought it was too US-centric. And in retrospect, I must say that I agree. There were, however, some nice SSM14 releases, some with pictures, and even a couple of catches so far. You can find the reports here:

For future SSMs, I'm going to focus more on release locations and/or methods that will be more globally generic, and focus less on calendar-based holidays and events which are nearly always local in appeal. With that in mind, here is SSM15, suggested by talkland in a forum post:

  • RELEASE ZONE: A place of spiritual worship near you.
  • RELEASE METHOD: Leave a book related in some way to the location. As always, creativity is a plus.
  • RELEASE TIME: This Sunday, February 8th, at sunset wherever you live.

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 SSM 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,

ps. I'm going to be speaking at the BooksALIVE! 2004 convention in Panama City, Florida, this Saturday. If you're in the area, please stop by and say "hi." More details here:

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