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It's Not Just About Journal Entries

Although We Do Love to Get Them
by whiskeyjane
February 13, 2010
The very first day I found out about BookCrossing I was hooked. The idea of taking a book and releasing it "into the wild" really appealed to me. I "got" it. I thought everyone would also "get" it. I grabbed the paperback that I had just finished reading and registered it. It was Bloodlines by Sharon Sala. I had already placed an order in the BookCrossing Store for bookplates but I was much too excited to wait for the labels to come in the mail. I grabbed a blue marker and wrote the BCID in large print inside the front cover. Underneath the BCID I wrote "bookcrossing.com" and I set out to find a suitable spot to leave my first book in the wild.

My first stop was the Conoco gas station near my house. It was crowded and I felt hopeful. I got out and pumped my gas. Before getting back in the car I carefully placed my book on top of the gas pump. When I returned home I made my release note: "Left book on top of pump #3 at Conoco on Montgomery NE". Then I proceeded to wait for the journal entry that I was sure would be made any moment by the book's new owner. That was four years ago and Bloodlines still has not written home.

For a few months I got a little discouraged. I was wild releasing many, many books and getting very few journal entries for my efforts. On the worst days I thought "my books are all being thrown in the trash". I actually had release spots in Albuquerque where I'd been so unsuccessful that I vowed to never leave a book there again. One of these was a local hospital where shortly after releasing 10 books, I observed the housekeeping staff pushing the trash cart around the area where I had just left my precious books.

However, I know for a fact that not all of my books are tossed in the trash. I have actually seen people pick up my books and take them with them. The most recent book I saw picked up was Frosty The Snowman, a brand new jumbo coloring book. I left it outside on the ground in the parking lot of my church on Christmas Eve. When the service was over, as I was leaving the building, I saw a nicely dressed young woman pick up the coloring book. I had put one of the BookCrossing orange sticky notes on the front cover of the book. I watched as first the lady read the note and then passed it to her companion who also read it. I excitedly pegged them both as readers. I am positive that they both at least read the details of how BookCrossing works. However, for whatever reason, they chose not to journal the book. I didn't mind. I was just happy that my book had a brand new owner!

In conclusion, I would like to share my favorite wild release spot of all. It is the Department of Human Services on Cutler NE in Albuquerque. The name Human Services Department is code for "the Welfare Office". It is crowded every day with no reading material whatsoever except for government pamphlets and they do not count. There is a small waiting area where parents can sit with their children and play with a few toys. Whenever I am in the neighborhood I bring children's books to wild release there. There is a child-sized table and I leave the pile of books on the table. Many of the clients are there to apply for financial assistance and many folks there do not speak English. I bought some of the Spanish BookCrossing bookplates specifically for the books I release at HSD. I never expect to get journal entries from this location and that is fine. But in just one day I received my two all-time favorite "catches" here, and didn't get a journal entry on either one.

The first one was a young mom who was sitting on a chair waiting to see her social worker. Her child, a little girl about four-years-old, had picked up one of the books and brought it over to her mother. The mom put the little girl on her lap and they started looking at the book together. It was so sweet! I loved seeing them spending time together, pointing at the pictures and smiling each time they turned a page.

But my favorite catch of all, also at HSD, was a little boy, about three-years-old, too young to read. He chose a book from the pile on the table and immediately ripped the orange sticky note off the front cover. He then tossed the sticky note high up in the air and jumped up and caught it as it was fluttering down to the floor. He did this over and over again, proudly holding his new book with one hand, and tossing the brightly colored sticky note with the other. He had the widest smile on his face! In fact, he was laughing out loud with delight. I thought to myself, "This is way better than any journal entry!".

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