The Mermaid's Tale

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An introduction to Bookcrossing


an intro to bookcrossing
What do you do with books you no longer wish to own? Recycle them? Donate them to Goodwill? Try to sell them at the used bookstore?

There is another option: Bookcrossing. This is a "catch and release" site to track books which are released into the wild. Tag your books to track their whereabouts, then release them into your nearby area. With a bit of luck, the book will be found soon, and a journal entry will be recorded on the Bookcrossing site as to its current whereabouts.

What is Bookcrossing?

Bookcrossing is a virtual treasure hunt, with the prize being a new book to read. It can also act as a virtual bookshelf to record the books you have read and passed along to others. Bookcrossing books can show up anywhere in the world at any time, to be found by a passer-by in the area.

Bookcrossing (v.): the act of leaving a tagged book in a public place for others to find, read, and pass along

Tagging your books

If you have a book that you would like to release, you will need to register the book with the Bookcrossing site. This will provide a Bookcrossing Identification (BCID) number. This BCID should be used to label the book in a permanent manner, usually inside the front cover. I like to use bookplates or sticky labels to ensure that the number stays with the book.

Make your own Bookcrossing labels

Sample label (feel free to adapt):

This is a traveling book.

Enter the BCID at

to see where it has been, then follow where it goes after you.

Read & Release this book for others to enjoy. Thank you!


Released by_____________________________



Tip: Print your labels on a sheet of 2" x 4" Avery labels. This is a good size for most books.

Book release: controlled vs "wild"

Once your book is tagged, select a location where you would like to release this book. Take the book to that location and leave it there for someone to find. If you are active on social media, make an announcement about the released book so others know there is a book in the area to find. Then, sit back and watch your Bookcrossing account for alerts about the book's whereabouts.

If you would prefer a "wild" release", pick any spot nearby for the book drop-off. The book may or may not be found, and you will likely never see the book again. A "controlled" release on the other hand is to release the book into a protected area, or even release directly to a friend or other person. In such situations, arrangements are generally made that the book will eventually be returned to the original owner. This is termed a "bookring" or "bookray".

The 3 R's of Bookcrossing

  1. Read a book that you enjoy.
  2. Register the book at to get a unique BCID for the book. Label the book with that number immediately.
  3. Release the book so someone else can read it. If you use the Bookcrossing site to make a note about the release, the site will email you when the book is found and journaled by someone.

International Bookcrossing Day is 21 April!

How to increase your book "catch" rate:

Finding a Bookcrossing book

Did you find a book with a Bookcrossing label inside the cover? Congratulations, you have "caught" a released book! Visit to enter the BCID into the search bar on the index page. This will bring up the book's information so you can record a journal entry about its whereabouts before reading and releasing it again.

Not a member? Join Bookcrossing today!