Tuesday, July 01, 2003


oh my.

i've been coming up with ways to promote more talk around poetry and distributing this list to other poets. will post that later, but one of the discussions has been about leaving books for others to find and someone mentioned Bookcrossing.

i've never been so ready to let go of a book before in my life.


BookCrossing.com is a labor of love that was conceived and is maintained by Humankind Systems, Inc., a software and internet development company with offices in Kansas City, Missouri, and Sandpoint, Idaho. Looking for a break from the doldrums of creating yet another e-commerce website (that's just what the world needs), or email server application (oooh, those are doubly exciting), Humankind partner Ron Hornbaker sought to create a community site that would be the first of its kind, that would give back to the world at large, and that would provide warm fuzzy feelings whenever he worked on it. BookCrossing.com was the result.

The idea came to Ron back in March of 2001, as he and his wife Kaori were admiring the PhotoTag.org site, which tracks disposable cameras loosed into the wild. He already knew about the popularity of WheresGeorge.com (which tracks U.S. currency by serial number), and that got him thinking: what else might people enjoy tracking? A few minutes later, after a glance at his full bookshelf, the idea of Books came to mind. And he knew it was a good one. After getting increasingly excited during two hours of research on the internet, Ron realized with satisfaction that nobody was doing it yet - he had found the elusive Unique Idea he had always sought. And since it centered around and celebrated books, it would reward his lifelong love of reading. Three hours later, he had decided on the name, registered the domain, and Kaori had sketched the running book logo on a crossing sign. The rest was merely execution.

Ron went to work programming the site from scratch the next day (after getting the green light from his partners in the software company, Bruce and Heather Pedersen), and about four mostly sleepless weeks later, on April 17, 2001, BookCrossing.com was launched and a simple press release was issued. Members trickled in at the rate of 100 or so per month, by word of mouth, until March of 2002 when the Book magazine article was published. Since then, the BookCrossing phenomenon has been the focus of countless TV, radio, and newspaper features, over 350 new members join daily, the site is serving over 10 million page views per month, and we're now the most popular reading group on the web according to Google's PageRank technology. The fact that it has captured the passion and imagination of around 130,784 people worldwide, so quickly, has both surprised and deeply gratified BookCrossing's founders.

If you'd like to thank those responsible, or deliver constructive criticism, or just complain like heck you can send email to feedback@bookcrossing.com. Ron and the others actually listen and respond to email, so fire away. :)


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