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The Great Book Give Away

Or: How it doesn't take a lot to have a BookCrossing Occasion
by bookczuk
December 20, 2006
dec2giveaway0005We were tired of it. All around the world, BookCrossers were having phenomenal gatherings and doing all sorts of fantastic things. There were the Brits and their BBC shenanigans, the New Zealanders and their magnificent Flash Mobs, the Aussies having scads of fun in meetups down under, and let's not even mention all the creative things happening in Europe. Even our fellow US BookCrossers were making us green with envy with their creative Crossing events. Here we were, in one of the most gloriously beautiful places on earth, with a group of BookCrossers who actually do manage to get together monthly, but we had yet to find a date and time for a fun "extracurricular" event. Sure, we'd talked about it at our gatherings, and even managed a road trip after one to a local bookstore, and suppers when Sonora and when Skyring each came to town, but for all our talk of special events, we'd not yet been able to agree on a date and time. What would it take?

To make it worse, we're in the midst of planning for a fabulous convention here in April 2007. We've talked BookCrossing up to everyone from the Mayor to the street cleaners. We've been in the paper and there's a radio show that is planning a story on BookCrossing. But to really best prepare the town, we needed some good old BookCrossing wild releasing to get things going. The only problem was, we never could seem to come up with a good time or place to spread the word.

Spring slipped past and we missed chances such as Spoleto USA, Flowertown Festival, Family Circle Cup and the great Cooper River Bridge Run. Summer skedaddled and we didn't do anything at any of the festivals or events that dotted the city's calendar. Fall flew in and we missed again. Now the holiday season was approaching. Would we fail again?

At our last meetup, the group was unanimous in the thought that we should try to do something public, as a group. But what and when became a sticking point. We all have hectic schedules and demands on our time. Finally, using our yahoo group (set up so that local BookCrossers can communicate), the Conventions and Meetings Forum, and some good old private messaging, a date and time was chosen and announced. Anyone who could and wished to would meet on December 2 at the Fountain at Marion Square. (This is the self same fountain skyring launched a book into on his visit here.) Not only would our usual Farmers Market be going on, but the Reindeer Run was happening, and there was a doggie parade as well. Later that day would be the official lighting of the Charleston Christmas Tree and our Festival of Lights (including a "boat parade" along the Cooper River, around the tip of the peninsula and up the Ashley River.) No doubt about it, the town would be hopping!

For my part, I immediately started to scour the house for books to give out. I found at least 50 that I needed to register as well as another twenty-five or so that needed to begin (or resume) their journeys. In the end, it was an embarrassingly tall stack of books that I had registered, journaled and labeled to bring with me. My yellow BookCrossing tote bag is nice and roomy, but I knew I'd have to lug the books a couple of blocks from where I could park the car to the meeting spot. I remembered seeing pictures of the Akron group and recalled they used a wagon, so set out to dig our little red wagon out of the pile of stuff in the garage. Hours later, unable to find said wagon, I headed off to the store and purchased a new one. (My justification was that it will be handy for lugging books back and forth at the Convention.) The wagon was lovely-- and unassembled. I confess to being only a tad worried when, after putting it together on Friday night, I found myself with three pieces left over. Oh well. My solution was to add a screwdriver and wrench to my tote bag for repairs, should a wheel fall off. The wagon was then decorated with signs such as "Read and Release" and "Make the World a Library" (original, huh?) and declared ready for action. I gathered a bunch of book marks, printed a bundle more from the site, grabbed my ballycumber stamp for stamping the hands of kiddies, thrust my BookCrossing cap on my head and headed downtown. I knew that kiptrix would be joining me from Summerville, but honestly didn't know if anyone else would show. No matter. We were BookCrossers enough to handle it!

December 2 Book GiveAway at Marion SquareAnd handle it we did. We had a grand time passing out books and talking BookCrossing. We chatted locals and visitors from Cleveland, Charlotte and Sumter; folks from Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville and Jacksonville; travelers from Chicago, San Antonio and Scaramento. We helped them find mysteries, romances, science fiction and fantasy books. We gave them tips on how to find local BookCrossers in their home town. We pointed them in the direction of a good cup of coffee (three of our OBCZs were nearby, one just around the corner!) And if they were from our beautiful lowcountry, we invited them to our regular meetups. Another BookCrosser wandered by to say hello, but couldn't stay, and one more was at the Market for her regular Saturday outing with her family. Only a handful of passers-by turned up their noses at our offer of a free book. Far more frequently, folks stopped to chat with us and pick through the books we'd brought.

To put it mildly, we had a blast. It was a gloriously beautiful day, and we had fun people watching when we weren't handing out books. The Reindeer Run gave folks all sorts of excuses to dress up (or dress their kids or dogs up) and play. We saw a large number of elves and other costumed creatures. Even dogs got in on the reading act! And the thing is, we did this all with minimal planning and minimal people. It didn't take a lot of organizing to do it -- in fact, it may have been our efforts to organize that bogged things down in the past. Whatever, I'm much more encouraged to try more spontaneous events around town now. Flash Mob at Waterfront Park? Go for it! Books at the Battery? Sure, why not. Release walk around town? I'll be there! I'll just keep my fingers crossed that the wagon holds up!

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