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Apps and How-To's: BookCrossing

Fri Feb 27, 2009 - 11:12 PM EST - By Brian Hart

See Which Parts of the Globe Your Book Has Crossed

Once upon a time, the only option for reading a book was - reading a real book with actual paper pages and ink print. Times have changed. Reading moved to the personal computer, the Internet, and even handheld PDA devices and smartphones. I've read several books on my Palm Centro, and our very own Jennifer Chappell is both the supreme fan and expert on virtual books. Through the discovery of a free Palm app at freewarepalm.com, BookCrossing, by Jorge Ossanai, Jr., I learned of the web site bookcrossing.com.

The Palm app of BookCrossing is better understood after understanding the BookCrossing website. BookCrossing is a free service for tracking books as they travel the world. It's a free book club, where the name of the game is "catch and release" of used books. Much like following the travels of a one dollar bill via its serial number at wheresgeorge.com, the BookCrossing site enables you to leave a book at the park, store counter, hotel room, or anywhere else that you think it may be picked up. If the new reader participates, you can track the travels of your book as it travels from reader to reader. It's a great way to make reading more interesting and to recycle used books by sharing them with others. There are several hundred thousand members on the site and several million books being tracked already. You can also dive into the BookCrossing forums to discuss favorite books with other members.

BookCrossing on the Palm is a database-type of app for keeping track of your books. You can input and save the BCID, ISBN, Title, Author, Rate, and Comments for your books that are circulating from person to person and tracked on BookCrossing.com. The app has a small memory footprint (only 75KB) and is very easy to use. Coupled with the website, it may be just the thing to encourage you to share your books with others. Maybe you could write a note in a favorite book for the next reader and encourage them to do the same, then see how far your book travels on BookCrossing. Download the app for free to your Palm OS smartphone, sign up on the BookCrossing site, and rummage through your old books and breathe some new life into them by making them available to others.

If you are a developer with some helpful and/or fun software or if you have a tip that you wish to pass on to the rest of the community, just email me at: [email protected]





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