Website title of
Available inMultilanguage
LaunchedApril 21, 2001; 23 years ago (2001-04-21)
Leipzig Bookcrossing.
Bookcrossing in Lyon.
Bookcrossing at Kozminski University in Warsaw.

BookCrossing (also known as BC, BCing or BXing) is defined as the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who may then do likewise. The term is derived from, a free online book club which was founded to encourage the practice, aiming to "make the whole world a library."

The "crossing" or exchanging of books may take any of a number of forms, including wild-releasing books in public, direct swaps with other members of the websites, or "book rings" in which books travel in a set order to participants who want to read a certain book. The community aspect of has grown and expanded in ways that were not expected at the outset, in the form of blog or forum discussions, mailing lists and annual conventions throughout the world.


The idea for what is now known as BookCrossing was conceived in March 2001[1] by Ron Hornbaker in the USA. Enlisted business partners and co-founders Bruce and Heather Pedersen[2] collaborated with Hornbaker to launch on April 21, 2001.[3]

After two years the website had over 113,000 members and by 2004 it was prominent enough to be referenced in an episode of the Australian soap opera Neighbours.[4] The same year it appeared as a new word in the Concise Oxford Dictionary,[5] although as of 2017, only the Collins English dictionary retained it as a word.[6][7][8][9]

Membership surpassed 1 million by March 2012 and the registered book count exceeded 8.5 million. By November 2019, there were over 1.9 million members and over 13 million books travelling through 132 countries,[10] of which over 25 thousand books newly "released in the wild" in the previous month across over 60 countries, with over 80% of the books being released in the 8 most active countries (Germany, United States, Spain, Italy, Australia, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Brazil), while 30 countries had seen a book release in the previous 3 days.[11]

In July 2007 Singapore became the first country to give the practice official status, designating 2,000 locations in the country as 'hotspots', similar to Official BookCrossing Zones, in an initiative launched with the National Library of Singapore.[12] The world's first official International BookCrossing Day took place on 21 April 2014.

Bookcrossing is also actively developing in the countries of Eastern Europe, in particular Ukraine, from 2021 in small and large cities.[13]


In May 2005 won two People's Voice awards in the Webby Awards for best community website and best social/networking website.[14] BookCrossing was also featured in a BBC Radio project broadcast as 84 Book Crossing Road, which involved releasing 84 copies of Helene Hanff's book 84 Charing Cross Road around the world. The programme was nominated for a Sony Radio Academy Award in 2006.[15]


An example of bookcrossing, where a book is left on a public table for someone to take.

Anyone who wishes to officially participate in "releasing" books, whether leaving it in a public place or passing it on to a friend, may register on the website,[16] although there is the option to remain anonymous when "catching" or recording the find of a book. users can 'go hunting', where a member will go to the website to view a list of books that have recently been "released", then go to the location it was left to "catch" it.

Books may also be left at "Official BookCrossing Zones" (OBCZs), which are located in certain coffee shops, cafes, restaurants and other public places. The purpose of these locations is to get current members in the area to leave books to share with the public. This also advertises BookCrossing and creates more members.[17]


There is a BookCrossing anniversary convention every April,[18] where BookCrossers go to enjoy organized literary-related events and release books together. The location of the convention changes each year: Here is a list of past and forthcoming conventions:

Location Year
Tampere, Finland 2021 - cancelled
Gold Coast, Australia 2020 - cancelled
Mainz, Germany 2019
Bordeaux, France 2018
Oslo, Norway 2017
Athens, Greece 2016
Oxford, UK 2015
Melbourne, Australia 2014
Gothenburg, Sweden 2013
Dublin, Ireland 2012
Washington, D.C., United States 2011
Amsterdam, Netherlands 2010
Christchurch, New Zealand 2009
London, United Kingdom 2008
Charleston, SC, United States 2007
Toronto, Canada 2006
Fort Worth, TX, USA 2005
St. Louis, MO, USA 2004

Many unofficial conventions or "unconventions" take place at other locations and times throughout the year,[19] making it easier for Book Crossers who cannot travel internationally for the convention to gather and share their love of books.

Controversy and criticism

In 2003, BookCrossing was criticized by the astrologer and novelist Jessica Adams, who claimed that books were being "devalued" by the website as BookCrossing could lead to lower sales of books and, therefore, the reduction in royalties being paid to authors.[20] Most Book Crossers dispute this argument, however. They claim that the website introduces readers to authors and genres that they have not read before, that the website encourages more people to take up or reclaim reading as a hobby, and that some members, having read a book that they have enjoyed, will buy extra copies to distribute through BookCrossing.[21][failed verification]

In March 2005, Caroline Martin, managing director of the publisher Harper Press, said in a speech that "book publishing as a whole has its very own potential Napster crisis in the growing practice of bookcrossing".[22] BookCrossers rebutted the link to Napster, saying that while music file sharing involves duplicating audio files countless times, BookCrossing doesn't involve duplicating books (and also does not involve violating copyright, as books can be sold or given away freely without permission of the publisher being needed; copyright, the intellectual property, still remains with the creator or publisher). When BookCrossing was first launched, the founder of BookCrossing, Ron Hornbaker, originally wondered if people would make this comparison.[23]

List of Prominent Book Crossers

See also


  1. ^ Dan Nephin (2002-09-11). "Site Says 'If you Love a Book, Set it Free'". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  2. ^ " Management".
  3. ^ " FAQs". Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  4. ^ mattster27 (2004-11-15). "tv show neighbours promotes bookcrossing". Retrieved 2008-04-04.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Soanes, Catherine; Angus Stevenson (2006). Concise Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ "Bookcrossing definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary".
  7. ^ "Definitions, Meanings, & Spanish Translations |". Lexico Dictionaries | English. Archived from the original on December 6, 1998.
  8. ^ "bookcrossing definition from Macmillan Dictionary: Free British English English Dictionary Online with Thesaurus".
  9. ^ "bookcrossing - Did you spell it correctly. Alternative spellings in the British English Dictionary - Cambridge Dictionary".
  10. ^ "About Book Crossing Popularity". Archived from the original on 2019-11-08. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  11. ^ "Hunt for books". 2019-11-08. Archived from the original on 2019-11-08.
  12. ^ Foo Xiao Xuan (2007-07-03). "Singapore is First BookCrossing Country in the World". Singapore News. Archived from the original on 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  13. ^ "У Чернівцях організували буккросинг, проте вандали вже встигли понищити одну зі скриньок -" (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  14. ^ "9th Annual Webby Awards: Named Best Community Website and Best Social/Networking Website in the People's Voice Awards". 2005-05-03. Archived from the original on 2008-03-24. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  15. ^ "Sony Radio Academy Awards". 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  16. ^ Harrod, Horatia; Walker, Marianna (2008-03-16). "Free Culture". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2008-03-28.[dead link]
  17. ^ Rebekah Denn (2003-09-05). "Readers are Leaving a Trail of Free Books All Over the Place". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  18. ^ "BookCrossing - Conventions". Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  19. ^ "About BookCrossing Unconventions". Archived from the original on 2010-06-28. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  20. ^ Crummey, Andrey (2003-09-13). "If Authors Love Books, then they Should Set Them Free". Scotland On Sunday. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
  21. ^ "BookCrossing - Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2010-11-18.
  22. ^ Andrew Cave (2006-10-15). "A Novel Idea Has Led to Best-Sellers Turning up in the Strangest of Places". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2008-03-27.[dead link]
  23. ^ Clint Witchalls (2003-02-20). "Finders Keepers". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  24. ^ TexasWren. "BookCrossing Authors". TexasWren's BookCrossing. Archived from the original on 3 February 2010.
  25. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: IAmBirmingham (11 February 2010). "What is BookCrossing?". YouTube.
  26. ^ Hawkins, Jim. "JimOnTheRadio's Bookshelf". BookCrossing.