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Giving away books in Kensington, Maryland

BC in DC celebrates the International Day of the Book
by ResQgeek
May 7, 2008
How many books can a group of seriously motivated BookCrossers
give away in five hours? The BC in DC crowd (otherwise known as the
BookCrossers of the Washington, DC area) decided to use the
International Day of the Book celebration in Kensington, MD to find
out. The answer turned out to be more than we expected.

Photo by SqueakyChuWe
began preparing for the event months ago. This wasn't the first year
that BookCrossing was represented at the Kensington Day of the Book
festival, but this was the first time that the entire BC in DC group
planned to provide a large presence. We collected and set aside books
to give away, prepared posters, printed brochures, and developed a
plan of attack. Somewhere along the way, we decided that our goal was
to give away 1,000 books. It was hard to believe that it would even
be possible to achieve, but it really motivated us. When we learned
that otakuu would be in our area on the day of the festival, as part
of her around the world adventure, we were even more excited.

Photo by SqueakyChuApril
27 was a chilly, gray day that threatened rain. By noon, we had our
tent set up, and books covered our tables, filled bins on the
pavement and were stacked on the wall behind our tent. There was even
a DaVinci wine box full of Dan Brown novels! In the end, we had
collected over 2,300 books to give away. On the pavement in front of
the tent we had drawn a giant Ballycumber with sidewalk chalk. We had
BookCrossers from Virginia (ResQgeek, PurplyPup, melydia, KateKintail,
authorauthor and nat4lee), the District of Columbia
(florafloraflora), Maryland (SqueakyChu, Mom-Oyster, creativeMGE,
crrcookie, lilgrovers, kristamd, and MaryZee) and New Zealand (otakuu!). We
immediately started encouraging passersby to help themselves to free
books. Some people were skeptical. “How many can we take?”
they would ask. We assured them that they could take them all. We
explained BookCrossing, and encouraged them to journal the books they
took home. We kept track of the books given away with a giant poster
with 1,000 spaces for people to record the books given away. As the
afternoon progressed, the poster slowly filled up with check marks.

from the beginning of the festival, our tent was surrounded by people
looking over the wide selection of books, at times seemingly standing
five deep. We also left books with sticky notes on them on benches up
and down the street. Many of the people that came to our tent arrived
already carrying some of these books. It seemed that the “wild”
books we scattered around the area seemed to work as very effective
advertising for our efforts. Thankfully, we had remembered to bring
plenty of bags, because people were picking up books by the armful.
One mother clearly wanted to browse, but her toddler kept trying to
wander off. In frustration, she picked up her child and put her
inside the play yard we had set up inside the tent for crrcookie's
son, lilgrovers. She then went back to the books, leaving her
daughter to play with lilgrovers.

Holmes and Dr. Watson were special guests at the festival, walking up
and down the street, talking to the visitors. At one point, Holmes
paused in front of our tent for several minutes, pipe in mouth,
contemplating all the activity. Melydia had a copy of The
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
that she asked them both to sign.
When asked, Watson indicated that Doyle was his agent!

Last year, one of the local authors, Con Lehane, had given
SqueakyChu a copy of his book What
Goes Around Comes Around
, which she sent out as a bookray. As
part of our preparations for this year's festival, we printed out the
journal entries for the book to show the author. About halfway
through the afternoon, Mr. Lehane walked up to our booth. We looked
around for SqueakyChu, but she wasn't at the tent because she was off
looking for Mr. Lehane. Eventually, she was able to show him the
journal entries for his earlier book. A little later, he came back
with another of his books, Death
at the Old Hotel
, which we immediately registered with a
prenumbered label, and will be sending out as a bookray.

Eventually, the afternoon drew to a close, though not before we
filled the last few spaces on our book count poster, marking 1,000
books given away! Not everyone had marked the poster, so we figured
we had passed that mark quite a bit earlier, but it was still
satisfying to see the last boxes checked off on the poster. In spite of
the threatening weather, we'd had a wonderfully successful afternoon.
After we'd packed up and had a chance to count our leftovers, we
calculated that we had given away over 1,200 books!

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