Books have a strength like no other – a book that has been enjoyed invokes a desire to share, to inform, to discuss. Passionate readers will be familiar with the feeling of turning the final page of a book that has been well loved, and next, the feeling of being compelled to pass it round to each of their friends, hoping that they will acquire the same pleasure.
This rather unique process has been recognised by sustainable organisation Bid and Borrow, who have teamed up with bus company The Big Lemon, in order to create The Big Book Share. The free service was launched on the 27th of April, and the idea is that Big Lemon passengers can take their unwanted books onto the bus and leave them in a box to start a new journey of page-turning, spine-bending enjoyment. What makes this idea special, though, is that inside each book a sticker will allow the new owner to write their name, location, and a brief message to the person who finds the book next – whether that be once more on the Lemon, or perhaps on the beach or in a park. Books may travel from Brighton to Berlin, and they may be beloved or despised, but either way, they will have provided someone with an unexpected gift – not just the imparting of knowledge, but also the joy of reading a book that one might otherwise never have chosen. The Big Book Share will allow readers across the country (and maybe it’s not ambitious to say across the world) to brighten up the day of someone they don’t know by setting them on the same path of discovery that have experienced previously, four hundred pages before.
The idea of book sharing is not exclusive to Brighton and Hove, however. It was as recently as March that we saw the positive effects that the giving and sharing of books can bring. On World Book Night, a million free books were given away, and early sceptics who believed such a large give away would damage book shops were proven wrong when sales rocketed by approximately 75,000 for each of the 25 titles given away.
The work that Bid and Borrow and The Big Lemon have begun in bringing us The Big Book Share encourages the connections of both individuals and the community as a whole, as well as promoting the undeniably precious art of reading. The beauty of it all is that these massive benefits come under an idea that is deceptively simple – putting a book down and passing it on.