Stuck at home with nothing to do except clean out your home and bookshelves? Here’s a perfect way to entertain yourself and downsize your shelves (or make room for new books 😛 )!
Some of my book hiding adventures, in Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Toronto!
Book Hiding History
About 15 years ago, I found a book with a free sticker on it left behind in a park and decided to take it home. It introduced me to BookCrossing (which I’ll explain more about below) and while I found it a really interesting group, it took me 5 or so years to hide that book for the next person, oops!
More recently, I learned about the Book Fairies (thanks to their celeb pal, Emma Watson) and with lots of ARCs as a blogger, this became an easy and fun way to find new homes for these books. Especially since you can’t sell them (and can’t donate to those who sell them) and libraries prefer finished copies!
I’ve now been regularly hiding books for 3 and a half years and it’s a great way to spread some joy in the book community and offload books you no longer want around. As someone who hates clutter, I really love getting rid of stuff so I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t one of my major motivations for hiding books.
Are you interested in taking part?
Here’s the run-down and what you need to get started!
It’s very simple to join in this fun. All you need are:
- A book you’re willing to give away
- Post-it note or piece of paper
- Pen or marker
- Optional: a friend to join in the fun (someone in your bubble or have distanced fun!)
- If you want to follow the Blind Date method (details below), you’ll also need some large paper to wrap the book, and tape.
- I sometimes put books inside a bag (like the ones you can get for produce in grocery stores) for rain protection when I leave them outdoors.
As I’ve hinted at above, there are a couple different communities that have formed around book hiding. You can follow any of their methods or come up with your own creative approach!
A more intense way of hiding your books, this involves tracking them. When you’re ready to “release a book into the wild”, you can register your book on the site (for free!) and you’re given a tracking number. Put a post-it note or sticker inside the book with the tracking number, as well as a note to say the book is free to a new home.
Each book gets its own webpage once it’s registered so once you’ve hidden the book, you can say where you left it (city and location (ex. park bench)) and the date. The person who found it can then go on the site and update when they found it. When they’re ready to pass it on to the next reader, they can follow the same process by announcing their hiding place and so on.
It’s a fun community because you can track the book’s movements, potentially all around the world! Check out the BookCrossing website for more details and how to get started.
Another book hiding community that’s worldwide, Book Fairies started in March of 2017. A lot of press was thanks to Emma Watson as she teamed up with them to hide books (and has posted about the fairies a couple times since).
Technically there’s a price to join the community but it’s not mandatory. The Book Fairies sell stickers with their logo and a little message on them, that you can then stick on the books you’re hiding. When they first started, they offered a limited number of free sticker packages, which is how I got my stickers.
I’ve since run out but in place of the stickers I have a post-it note with the same message promoting the Book Fairies. The only difference is that when I post about it on social media, the official accounts have told me that they’re not able to repost my photos without their official sticker, but you’re welcome to still join in the community whether you’re a paying member or not!
This community is very active and has a strong following around the world so you’re bound to find others from your country or city taking part! Check out the Book Fairies website and their official Instagram page for more on getting involved.
Blind Date with a Book
This is more often used by libraries and bookstores but I decided to use it for book hiding too!
The Blind Date method adds a little more surprise, beyond just stumbling across a book. For this, you wrap up the book so that the cover doesn’t show and then you can write some hints on the paper. These can be bullet points or a short tagline — something that gives a taste of what the book might be but readers will have to wait until they rip off the paper to discover what it is.
The library I worked at last year always had a Blind Date display for Valentine’s Day and I think it’s a really cute way to take a chance on a book and hopefully find something you love!
Your own approach!
What spin could you come up with in making your book enticing to the public? There are so many possibilities to make this your own so have some fun!
The one recommendation I’d offer, regardless of your method, is to have the word “Free” in large, visible letters somewhere on the book so people know without a doubt that they can take it home.
You’ve prepared your book so now to go about the actual hiding.
The big thing here is to find a hiding place. You want to find a public place (don’t go trespassing!) because you do want people to be able to find it!
The tricky part is if you don’t want to be spotted hiding the book or want to snap a photo of your hiding place to post on social media. In this case, you have to somehow find that perfect balance of public but not too public so you can do your book drop without being noticed. I’ve had only mild success with this, either waiting a while for crowds to clear or running away immediately after hiding the book 😛
- Don’t hide the book somewhere it could be confused for merchandise (ex. inside stores or libraries)
- Likewise, don’t hide it where it’s a potential security risk (no strange, abandoned packages in the airport!)
- Outdoor areas are always great! I’ve hidden books on park benches, at bus stops, in public gardens, on beaches, and outside restaurants.
As long as you can find a relatively populated area so at least one person can stumble across your book, you’ve succeeded! But there are still some more steps you can take after hiding your book if you’d like to continue the fun.
There’s no obligation to do anything more than hide a book so if you’ve had your fun, you can stop there! But if you’d like to share your fun more widely, this is where the next steps come in.
Now that you’ve hidden the book, you can choose to post on websites (like BookCrossing) or social media, updating people with where you’ve hidden a book or hints to the location.
A couple benefits from posting about it:
- Those who are extra motivated can try to seek the books out.
- You promote book hiding to others. Let’s grow this community!
- People who found your book can find your account and may be encouraged to share their own post.
It’s up to you whether you want to take the extra step but social media is where much of the book hiding community lives so if you’d prefer this not to be a solitary activity, this is where you find your people!
Fun fact: one of my posts led to a free burger! Can’t promise the same results for all posts though 😛
I really enjoy book hiding and it’s been a fun way to explore the different cities I’ve lived in. I’m going to post about some of my own book hiding adventures in the coming weeks so stay tuned for that!
I hope you’ve found some inspiration to do your own book hiding or maybe tackle some overflowing shelves!
Have you ever hidden a book before? What’s your favourite method?
Photographs by blogger.