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Refining my wild release car kit
by KateKintail
October 3, 2007
After five years of BookCrossing and more than 500 wild releases to my name, I’m just about to the point where I cannot pass a bench without my fingers twitching for a book to leave there. I can still remember the excitement of my first few wild releases -- the way my stomach jumped, the paranoia that people might be watching me, and how I drove past the locations over and over again to see if they had been picked up yet. I still get somewhat nervous when I wild release but, thankfully, I’ve also become a little more organized.

Notes, pens, and books strewn about my car turned into my first release car kit: a brown bag with handles. I could put supplies and books into it and move it around easily… perhaps too easily. Frequently, items would slide out while on the road. For example, I drove around for more than a month with a book wedged between the passenger seat and door before I realized it was there. I graduated to a small box after that, which was certainly an improvement because it had lots of space for both supplies and books. The problem was finding what I wanted in the box. Even when I added a tin to hold the smaller items, it wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped.

After several attempts, during which I learned what worked and what didn’t as well as what I really needed, I created a working BookCrossing car kit. It lives on the passenger seat of my car, so I can quickly reach it to grab and prepare a book for wild release. Of course, I can easily move it to the back or the trunk in case I have passengers… but I ask you what’s more important: driving people around or releasing books?

Pictured left: My "Before" Kit. Pictured right: My "After" kit (FYI the "after" photo was taken during Never Judge a Book by its Cover Challenge’s “pink” week)

Contents of my kit include:

Plastic organizing unit: I got the idea from a Real Simple magazine (January 2007) and it took me a while to find one where the sections were large enough to hold everything perfectly. I bought mine at IKEA. It’s the perfect size for the passenger seat of my car. The sides of each compartment are high and not once in the month during which I’ve used it has anything ever fallen out. Since it’s transparent, I can also tell at a glance when it’s time to restock.
Cost: $3

Brightly-colored sticky notes: I personally like small square Post-its for paperbacks and the yellow or orange sticky notes from the BookCrossing store for larger books. Post-its in neat shapes are great for seasonal releases, too. It’s always nice to have a variety so that I can pick a color/shape that compliments a book’s cover and stands out without obscuring the title.
Cost: $10-$30

Small notepad: Now I always have paper on hand to make notes to myself: the title and BCID of a book, the time of the release, and the exact location (full name of the place I left a book, including address if applicable). Long ago, I learned it’s better for me not to make release notes ahead of time, because I might find a better spot for a book or find the spot I’d assumed would be good to be too populated or otherwise inaccessible. So now I can release wherever I want, then I can tear a notepad page out to take to my work/home computer and make detailed release notes.
Cost: $1

Pens & sharpies: I used to scramble around, looking for something to make notes with. And you can’t use just anything to write “Take me home - I don’t bite!” on a sticky. Pens used to fall on the floor and roll around from the motion of the car. Now they have a special place where I can always find them right when I need them.
Cost: $1-$3

Release bags: Not only are the BookCrossing bags great for protecting books during inclement weather releases, but the markings on the bags are great and substitute for a sticky note which could potentially blow away or fall off. They are also fantastic when releasing several books of a series or which are thematically similar. I recently bagged together four books from Asimov’s Foundation series, for example, and during my Harry Potter celebratory releases in July I added a little Harry Potter treat with each book in a bag.
Cost: $8-14

BookCrossing Bookmarks: These are great to stick in books. I’ve also left small stacks of them at literary events and conferences or given them to friends who were interested in the concept and wanted more information. It’s always nice to have some on hand.
Cost: $10

Being able to efficiently wild release AND keep everything from supplies to post office receipts (with delivery confirmation numbers from bookrings/rays/boxes/RABCKs) organized?

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