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BookCrossing Reads and Releases The Reader

What a Challenge!
by BCNewsletter
March 3, 2009
Back in December, BookCrossing raised a challenge to our members. The Weinstein Company and Vintage Books (a division of Random House) were in touch with us to see if we could help promote the award-winning movie The Reader, based on Bernhard Schlink's award-winning book. Members were asked to release as many books possible that were themed around The Reader between January 1 and the 2009 Oscar Awards Ceremony (which took place in Los Angeles, California) on February 22. And wow! Did BookCrossers respond!

The rules were pretty straightforward: The more books a person released, the better the chances to win one of the prizes that were offered. Points were awarded for each release, and extra points given for specific criteria, such as releasing a copy of the actual book or including a photo of the release. Any way a theme could be found was fine: a play on the words in the the title, something about reading, book-to-movie tie-ins, May-December romances, Germany, WWII, lawyers, books on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (The Reader is Number 116 on the list). Essentially, anything was admissible as long as there was an explanation or justification given for reasons calling a particular release "themed". Each release note also contained a reference to the movie and an incentive to go see the film. We even gave points if someone saw a theme that another member had missed, and pointed it out (both the "pointer" and the "pointee" got credit. It was kind of like a mini RABCK.) And, there were also plenty of wild card winners at the end of the contest, too, so that we had winners who only entered one book or joined on the last day.

In the end, it was all pretty amazing. Fifty seven BookCrossers from 14* countries participated. A total of 1,865 individual books were released (including 26 copies of The Reader). The creativity in general for the challenge was both clever and insightful. And we had 132 catches (51 of which are new members) at the end of the challenge (though catches are still rolling in). Over half of the books released in the challenge were also released in one or more other Release Challenges.

Our intrepid members found 2,903 themes (some were repeats, but a theme was counted each time it appeared for a book, but never twice for the same individual book.) The themes were on a huge variety of things: words in the title, names of characters, author names, settings, subject matter, even on the release locations for the books. And some were quite imaginative. Moem released a copy of Een Brug Te Ver (A Bridge Too Far) (themed for this challenge by WWII content) on the bridge the story was about. Bascula released The Eagle Has Flown, a book which also is set during WWII at the King of Prussia Mall in the Food Court there, connecting that location to the courtroom scenes in The Reader. Futurecat, who also released the first book of the challenge, set free a number of books at WWI and WWII war memorials. KarenBC had some themes, including ones for From Dust to Ashes and The Red Pony. The photographs in those journal entries are worth clicking through to see. Megi53 left Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told By a Cat in front of a Catholic church, tying in both an event in The Reader and the homeland of characters in each book. And Greyflank was able to release The Gift Horse that was both translated from German (as wasThe Reader) and had the nickname Michael gave to Hannah in the title.

But on to results. Scoring this challenge was a challenge in itself. There were many areas to keep track of and the spread sheet used was a work of art. So many people did so many interesting and noteworthy releases. In the points categories, if a participant had the highest score in a category, we took them out of the running for other categories. So while ResQGeek, who was our total point winner (racking up a phenomenal 1226 points for the 238 books he released) also came in first for number of catches (24) and number of new members from those catches (13), he was eliminated from those categories, so that others had a chance to claim glory as well. The point categories and high scorers are listed below:

  • Most Books Released: Chubsiewhubsie: 411 books
  • Highest Score Total and New Member catches in Challenge: ResQgeek: 1226
  • Leading Catches : futurecat, read-a-bit, Karenbc
  • Highest Releaser (yes, the pun was intended. Be sure and check out newk's photograph for his release of Gilead. He literally took this challenge to the heights, leaving a book on a mountaintop while on vacation. But he also released a lot of books this challenge.): newk
  • Total points: Jare, awaywithfairies

The next two categories were based on percentages. We took the total number of books released member by member and calculated who had the highest number of themes per book and who had the highest number of dual challenges per book.

  • Themes: Mandamouse, javaczuk, MrsDanvers

  • Dual Challenges: bascula, crrcookie, elle311, ILoveToRead2

And finally, we took all the rest of the participants and threw their names in a hat, and pulled out these names as additional "wild card" winners: aris1, Annimanni, discoverylover, georgefayne71, judygreeneyes, kiwiinEngland, KKslibrary, Lakritzschnecke, Megi53, msrubble, puppymummy, RockDg9, T02S03B11D20, and zinger.
We're also giving a special thank you gift of wings to deereads, who provided the lovely photograph illustrating this article as a photo for her release of The Reader in the contest.

Was it fun? A resounding YES if the private messages and forum posts indicate anything. According to futurecat, "I had lots of fun, and it was a great excuse for a couple of field trips (yeah, since when have the Christchurch Crew needed an excuse for a field trip?) for the perfect themed release." Another participant commented, "Thanks you guys, this was fun - and I'm not saying this just because I won. First, it interested me in reading a book I would not have read otherwise. Second, it was a lot of fun to find themes and ways to connect my releases to The Reader." And yet a third wrote, "I can't believe I actually won something, given the small amount of books I released. I thought for sure you were fooling when you said 'size doesn't matter'! It was great to see how brilliant some people were with hunting up themes and clever releases. I think it stepped my wild-releasing ideas up a notch."

We here at the Newsletter had fun, too, and hope there are more opportunities for sponsored challenges. Thank you all for your participation, help, high spirits and hi-jinx. And you know what to keep on doing -- Read and Release! Help Make the Whole World a Library!

* Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States

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