How was your Sunny Colch unconventional Bookcrossing UNconvention weekend? Rather lovely if the 130 plus people that made it to @Slack_Space on Saturday morning is anything to go by. Britain’s Oldest Recorded hosted the gathering of bookcrossing lovers, celebrating the love of both reading and sharing that can be found in Colchester.
Bookcrossing is the most altruistic of literary acts. Put simply, you leave a book in a public place for someone else to pick up and hopefully enjoy. You are playing the role of the Great Literary Liberator.
Bookcrossers of the World Unite – all in Sunny Colch as well.
Speaking to The Chronic, Colchester book crosser Karen B explained:
“Bookcrossing is method of tracking individual books once they leave your ownership and gathering reviews from others along the way, willy nilly sharing. Currently around a million people have joined in.”
But why Colchester for the UNconvention weekend?
“Each year there’s a vote after local bookcrossers put in their submissions to hold it in their town. Last year we lost by one vote, this year we didn’t. We believe Colchester has a lot to offer and that we can make the UNconvention as quirky as the town.”
The Chronic’s Bookcrossing weekend was mainly centred around Slack Space. The banking hall of the old Co-op along Eld Lane had been transformed into table after table of books – all on offer for free.
Fiction appeared to be the most popular choice with a decidedly heavy selection of Dan Brown novels on offer. We’re non-judgmental here at The Chronic…
But it was perhaps the atmosphere at Slack Space that told you more about the art of bookcrossing. Stories were shared about different books, and advice was given as to where to find and leave elsewhere around the town.
The Headgate Theatre was the second location where the UNconvention focussed some of the official activities. Something of a Sunny Colch coup was in place with the authors Mark Billingham, Martyn Waites and Elizabeth Haines taking part in informal Q & A sessions.
One of the aims of the weekend was to encourage reading and writing of books. Other events at The Purple Dog, a flash mob at Culver Square and even a visit to a phone box in Little Bentley added the UN tag into the convention.
As the name suggests, it was an incredibly loose and informal weekend. But if you want to take a more quantitative approach to the qualitative act of liberating a book, then bookcrossing.com can help out.
Registered books are tagged inside with the message:
“This is a travelling book. This has been registered at bookcrossing.com so its journey can be tracked.”
It’s the modern interweb update of the message in a bottle idea for the literary world. Tracking how far your own released books have traveled allows a personal story to be built up around the act of literary liberation.
And so the Sunny Colch Bookcrossing UNconvention may have come to a close, but the act itself carries on around the town. Slack Space always has an available library of books that are just waiting to be liberated. The Chronic has even come across some books that have been released along the Wivenhoe Trail.
It’s all about sharing and releasing books back into the great public library.
@robchilver and @Magic_Kitten have put together a great podcast covering the weekend events in Sunny Colch. You can follow the Adventures with Words project via Facebook, as well as subscribing to future podcasts over here [iTunes.]