Saturday, March 29, 2008

Books, Books, Glorious Books

I am, as I have said before in this space, a reader. A hopeless one, at that, enslaved by the printed word, and wildly possessive of books. I have traditionally had a horrible time giving books away, and let's not even THINK of throwing them out, because that would never ever happen. That being said, whenever I have given books away, giving them to people who I know will read and appreciate them really takes some of the sting off. To that end, I have two book disperment agents that I use and hope to pass on to you.

The first is Book Crossing, which I am renewing my love affair with. When I was at school at American, I used this pretty frequently, trailed off, and have now gotten back on board. This is more of a sort of social experiment, kind of like tracking the movements of...I dunno, moose across Canada. You go on to Book Crossing and register your books, and that will generate a little label that you tag the book with, kind of like an ex libris tag. (Much better than clipping a metal tag onto a moose's ear, no?) You then release the book into the wild, noting on the website where it is. Then, one of three things happens. One, someone picks up the book, thinks "woo! Free book!," sees the Book Crossing tag in the front cover, and reports to Book Crossing to punch in the ID number and say where they are, etc. Two, someone goes on to Book Crossing, looks up a list of released books, and goes to FIND your book at which point they report in accordingly. Three, of course someone sucky could pick up your book (or it just gets ignored and wanders the Earth homeless) and not follow the directions on the tag. That would suck. But isn't the coolness of the first two options worth the occasional douchebag?? I used to dump books off on the Metro, but now I am going to start with Charlie's on campus, commuter rail, and maybe even in the DCU Center. I'll post updates here, just in case anyone's interested.

The second Cool Book Thing is something Celia turned me on to a while back but I am just now signing up for, because I am a bad person. It's called Book Mooch, and is less social experimenty than the Book Crossing. You go onto their site, punch in a bunch of books you'd like to get rid of and pass along, and then, people can request your books. You pay postage, and each book you send gives you one point (three, if you send overseas), and these points entitle you to request books from other people. It's also got a kind of eBay-style feedback system. Neat system, and my books are waiting to be claimed online!

To close, here's a wonderful ad that I think really speaks to what reading is all about. It's a PSA from the Ad Council and the Library of Congress to promote the Lifelong Literacy campaign. Needless to say, it's aimed at young readers, and has a couple different incarnations - same basic theme of the train station, but in the end the kids go to different places, like Narnia, Hogwarts, Oz, etc. Really well done, I think, and moreover, a neat enough looking ad that kids might actually tune in, rather than ignoring it or feeling talked down to.

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