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One BookCrosser's Guide to Successful Catches

An 8-step guide to increased odds of releases being caught
by Jozii
January 9, 2008
Have you ever set a book free that never got journaled as caught? Are you worried that your releases are just going to get ignored or even trashed? There’s no way to ensure that a released book is ever caught, but there are ways to increase the odds significantly.

A successful release is usually a caught release, and this article will help you achieve just that. Here are 8 tips that will help you improve your released/caught ratio:

1. Visual appeal. One of the most simple but important things you can and always should do is make your released book look appealing, while also explaining the situation. Get passers-by interested in your book.

One of the best and most common ways to achieve this is by simply sticking a note, for example a handwritten and colorful post-it note, on the cover. People aren’t likely to stop and pick up a book that doesn’t invite them to do so. Simply write “Free book, look inside the cover!” or something similar.

2. Location. Another way to catch people’s interest is by leaving the book where it’s likely to be found by someone interested. Crowded places are good, but make sure to also leave the book someplace open. A lonely book at an otherwise empty table works a lot better than a book on a table full of other stuff.

3. Official labels. Print official BookCrossing labels for free or buy them from the Supply Store, and write the BCID number on them. While the labels provide decent explanation to the situation as a whole, they can also help getting people to take the book with them.

4. Detailed instructions. While it’s of course possible that your book is found by another BookCrosser, by someone who knows the deal already, it’s more likely that someone not familiar with the concept will run into the book first. If this happens the book is likely to just be left alone anyway, but providing the finder with instructions can help him or her get the courage to take the book.

For example, write and print instructions which you stick inside the cover along with the official label. Tell the finder to go to www.BookCrossing.com, and what he or she should do there. Encourage the person to take the book home.

5. Targeted audience. Besides the general tips on where to put a book to get people interested in it, it’s also a good idea to target the audience. For example leaving a children’s book at a high school might have less impact than if left at or near a kindergarten. It’s generally a good idea to match the book to the location where you're leaving it.

6. Explain where you put it. When writing the release notes for your book, make sure to provide detailed information on where you put the book. Of course, you’ve already selected country, state/province, city and even where in the city you’ve put the book. But, simply “the mall” doesn’t let hunters know where in the mall you put the book. Tell them the exact location (for example “the bench by the main entrance”) in the release notes.

7. Release at established zones. The hard part is often to get newcomers to understand the concept and that they are in fact allowed to take your book. Instead of, or at least in addition to encouraging people to pick the book up, leave the book at an already well-used and established crossing zone. Browse the “Go Hunting” page on the website to see where people usually leave books in your area, then go ahead and leave one there yourself. Chances are fellow BookCrossers will stumble upon your book, and that you’ll find a book to take yourself.

8. Don’t look back. Last but not least, a good tip is not to look back after you’ve placed a book. Don’t place a book at a location where you’re likely to come back anytime soon and see whether the book is still there or not. Rather, place books at locations where you don’t usually travel. When you’ve released a book, you’re not supposed to ever see it again, and noticing that your release is still there, day after day, isn’t much fun at all. Sometimes ignorance is better.

Hopefully the above tips can or have helped you increase your number of releases caught. Make it a habit to properly label your books and make sure newcomers know what to do when they find the book as well as giving fellow BookCcrossers an increased chance of finding the exact location of the book.

In the end, however, it’s not about the release/caught ratio. It’s about doing a good thing, giving others a chance to enjoy a good book. So remember, release your books into the wild, but even if they’re never journaled as caught, at least you’ve already done your part.

Have fun BookCrossing!

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