Books In The Wild

Books In The Wild
1. to share and explore books with those we know and those we haven't yet met.
2. to explore the journey a book takes us on.
3. to release books in to the wild.

10 August 2012

Books In The Wild. What? You too?

It appears that the idea of books being released into the wild is one that has caught many people's imaginations. A quick google surprised me with how many hits come up for terms such as 'books in the wild' or 'releasing books'. There are sites with photographs of books being read in public, books being read in unusual places, photos of lost books and sites which, similar to this one, 'release' books and then track them. Bang goes my smug pleasure in how original I am! I don't know why I hadn't googled this before, particularly before releasing the first of my books. Rookie mistake. Guess I was too caught up in getting the books out there - into the wild..

I am curious about this personification of books, and that the idea of setting them free is so widespread. On Twitter there are regular comments from authors about 'releasing their books into the world'. I can understand this in regard to authors. Books are their creations. They have caused sleepness nights, headaches, frustrations and joy. They are a product of blood, sweat and tears, and the relationship with the book changes as the process of publication and release for public consumption occurs. I believe many authors feel, once published and loosed on the world, the book doesn't belong to them any more. It seems that the readers then pick up the reins and books develop a life of their own as they are read, discussed and shared.

These 'books in the wild' sites show that the love of the physical book is still very much alive and kicking, not usurped by electronic formats. Whilst we read a good book we are engaged and challenged on many different levels. This mental and emotional attachment becomes personal and we become temporary custodians of something that hopefully has the power to affect us in a myriad of ways. Maybe this is why books, inanimate objects after all, are given animateness and there are so many blogs devoted to the secret lives of books?

Now, back to worrying about whether I should change the name of this blog or not. 'Books in the Wild'? 'Books on the Loose'? 'Off the Shelf'? Hmm...


  1. The physical book will thrive for at least a little while longer. We've got people who like them. I think I'm somewhere in the middle, uncertain which I prefer. I am struck by the argument (not that you make it) that younger people will prefer e-readers, and thus the older crowd will die out and take print books with them. On my most recent train trip, every e-reader I saw was in the hands of someone 40 or older, while I met ten tweens with paper books kicking around. I wanted to ask them about the appeal, but felt too awkward.

  2. Hi John. Thank you for the thought provoking comment.

    Yes - the book is in an odd place at the moment and it will be interesting to see where this evolution takes us. I don't have an e-reader but do read books on my iphone, but somehow it never seems as relaxing to read from a screen. And, although I like knowing I always have a book with me thanks to the electronic format, I wouldn't be happy reading it in the bath! And would be furious if the battery ran out.

    The majority of people I know with e-readers are, as you say, 40 plus, or their children (my children's primary school now has a policy for taking e-readers in to school). My twenty something daughter actively doesn't want one. She was nearly tempted whilst at Uni for the ease of having everything in one place, but sees them as another expensive gadget. I like to think there is room for both physical books and e-books. I don't think I'll ever want to relinquish my paper copies (although I'd gain a huge amount of space)but I also don't want to miss out on the wealth of literature which is appearing in electronic formats.

    It would be interesting to see why people are choosing the different formats. I think we should grab the bull by the horns and ask (but only if you go first).

  3. First let me say this is a great blog. I love it. I'm intrigued by the idea of leaving books for people to find. As an author, I've actually thought of doing that. A co-worker is going on vacation in the Great Smokey Mountains next month and I had already asked her to leave a copy of my book in the cabin (I provide the copy, of course). This idea of just leaving them in odd places, though, really caught my attention.

    As for print books versus electronic, I, too, am somewhere in the middle. I love holding a printed book when I read at bedtime, but I also love being able to download a good book on my Kindle without having to wait for a trip to the bookstore. When I first published my novel to Amazon I was as thrilled as I thought I could be, but then I published the paperback, and that first time I held it in my hands was almost too much to comprehend.

    It's hard to imagine looking at my bookshelf and not seeing it full of the books I've collected over my lifetime, but I suppose the younger generation will never know that aspect of reading ... so they're not likely to feel they're missing out.

  4. Hi Carl.

    Thank you for your comments regarding the blog. It's great to hear such positive feedback.

    I was quite nervous leaving the first couple of books so I hope it won't be too nerve-wracking for you leaving one you've actually written. Are you going to leave a means of getting feedback? Or encourage the finder to leave it again for someone else? I'd love it if you wanted to write a bit about leaving it to be found that I could post on here, but equally understand if it would be too personal or more suited to your own blog.

    I'm trying to imagine how it must have felt when you held the copy of your book in your hands, and failing miserably. The creative process that goes into writing fills me with awe. A thought suddenly crossed my mind whilst thinking of you holding that first copy. What happens to 'out of print' electronic books? With a physical book there are so many places where you can track down copies. What happens if they only exist in an electronic format? (Sorry for the meander.)

    Good luck with leaving the book, and also in your idea of interviewing readers, an idea I love.