Hunting and Releasing Books in the Wild.
The labels say things like "read me", "free book", "read and release me" along with further instructions and the Bookcrossing URL. Once you have a uniquely labeled book, the idea is to take the book someplace public; A doctors office, the DMV, a cafe, a park bench, bus stop, Any place where some one else will find it. Then you make a note of where you left it, and if you like a short review on the Bookcrossing website. Congratulations, you book is now "in the wild".
The intention is that some one will find your book, pick it up and read it. Following the instructions on the label, they'll log in to the website, and let you know they have your book. After reading it, they should re-release the book back into the wild. And the cycle continues. It's sort of Geocaching meets "where's george" meets your local public library. Participation in Bookcrossing is rewarding on many levels. You are giving something of yours to others in a completely altruistic way. You get to spread the meme of you favorite novel to some one else who may appreciate it. And you can follow the path of something that you just let go of, seeing what sorts of hands it passes through on it's journey. For those that have not yet released a book, they can still reap the reward of finding free reading materials in unexpected convenient places.
Bookcrossing is blooming quickly. Already there are half a million registered Bookcrossers, and nearly three million books propagating in the wild. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. As Metcalf's law states " the "value" or "power" of a network increases in proportion to the square of the number of nodes on the network." As more people become involved with Bookcrossing, the more utility and enjoyment people will get out of it. Imagine coming across a great novel in the drawer of your hotel room next to those tired old Gideon bibles. Or getting in touch with a group of people that have all recently read your favorite book. It's the spread of knowledge and culture of the people, by the people and for the people. It's Web 2.0 in dust jacketed analog.
This is the age of jack booted DRM, where giant lousy with lawyers megacorps try to convince you that they are the sole purveyors of culture. Bookcrossing is a refreshing change, where you are encouraged to read some one else's copy of the next up and coming thing. Where the spread of literature free of charge and obligation is set amidst a network of like minded people who are happy to share the joy of reading.
Several Memepunks staffers have joined the Bookcrossing posse. Look for some of our favorite novels coming soon to a public place near you. Also, we are planning a Bookcrossing "event" or two this year. A big name genius author will be providing signatures to copies of his works before we release them into the wild. Another idea we are toying with is a Bookcrossing Google Maps API. So you can much more easily find that ice cream shop on Mainstreet where I left Vernor Vinge's True Names.