Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Belated BookCrossing update

I am slow. Sorry. It can take me forever to answer an email or a letter or send out something I'm going to send out ... or make a dentist's appointment ... or blog about something I'm planning to blog about. I'll 'do it tomorrow'. But tomorrow never comes. :-( Better late than never, though, I hope.

Don't know if anyone remembers it, but I blogged about a couple of BookCrossing-related things a few months ago, and then never really updated that with how it all came out. So ... am finally salving my conscience by bringing you these fascinating updates now.

First the crappy new developments which led to my angry ranting post here. This was about how back in July some changes were made at the BookCrossing site. They were basically not good changes. Some of the new things were good, but at the same time restrictions were placed on other functions so that the new functions were rendered relatively useless. This was not just annoying, but IMO worrisome too, because it showed me that to some extent the Powers That Be at BookCrossing did not quite understand how the site actually functions. What's the point of giving us an interactive wishlist, if you're going to take away our communication? For instance. So I was worried. Scott, our then CEO, did not, in his very belated response, show a great deal of understanding of our grievances. Overall the response from the PTB was disappointing. Scott has since then left the position - I wish I could say I was sorry for that - and Bruce, one of the original founders of the site, took over as CEO. Since then, things have been quiet. Who knows what the future holds ... but I do think that there is a greater sensitivity in management now to the members' point of view. I hope so. We can BookCross without, but the site will be nothing without us.

All the negative changes were rescinded - no restrictions on forum posts, messages and profile info for any members (the restrictions were originally placed on those not currently involved in the Members Plus program, which costs extra). 'For now'. My biggest problem, though, wasn't really about all of that. It was the way they sprung the changes on us overnight with practically no warning to anyone. And then they handled it so badly. It was a very sad day for BookCrossing. I for one am more wary now. Not that the PTB may be after our money - of course they need money, a site like that doesn't run on air. But why handle it so clumsily? And why ignore so thoroughly the members' requests for more transparency? If we can't have answers to our questions, then why not at least tell us that?

I'm glad we were heard at least so far as we were. But I'm still wary. I am and hope always to be a BookCrosser ... but BookCrossing management do not have my full trust anymore. :-(

But there are good things happening in my BC world too. Like this. :-) I came up with a bright idea last winter - I mean, if I do say so myself ;-) - and unlike a lot of my bright ideas, this one actually happened. My idea was to collect a lot of queer interest books and then use them for a mass release during the Gay & Lesbian Film Festival here in Oslo. It's held every June, as part of Oslo Pride Week. Some of my local BookCrossing friends took enthusiastic part in the project (special kudos to lunacia ;-), helping me to collect books, and we also got books as donations from 'Crossers round the world. I set up a virtual bookshelf for the project and registered a stack of books. Mostly flea market finds; however did you guess. ;-) We ended up with so many that we decided to not only release during the film festival, but also during the last few days of Pride Week after the festival was over. It all went really well and we're already planning to do the same again next year. :-) A good time was had by all!! :-)

These are our stats for the project so far:
Books registered: 17
Books donated: 80
Books released: 90
Books caught and journalled: 9
New members: 6

60 books were released at the Cinematheque, and of these, 57 were picked up. The remaining three were rereleased elsewhere during those last few days I mentioned. But we added more books so that we didn't just get 90 releases, we got 90 actually released books. :-) And so far 9 journal entries - we fully expect more to come, but we already have some good ones. This book has already been read and released, and this one has been found twice. :-D

Well deserved kudos to everyone involved, I say. And here's hoping we'll do just as well next year. :-)

Join BookCrossing!! It's fun and exciting despite everything I just said!! :-D

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