If you live in Berlin and you like books, you’ll be as excited as I am about Book Flaneur – a novel way of introducing Berliners to books!
I spoke to Nadia and Piotr, the people behind this new community project, to find out more.
Tell us how Book Flaneur works.
We love to call Bookflaneur the ultimate matchmaker for blind dates with books in Berlin. The idea is simple:
Step 1: We lovingly wrap a book
Step 2: We label it nicely to hint at the genre, feel or plot
Step 3: We map secret pick-up locations via Twitter and Google Maps
Step 4: We drop it off at a local business, bench in a park, U-Bahn station or anywhere else
Step 5: A book lover picks up their date
How did you come up with the idea?
Both of us have a soft spot for books. Nadia likes stocking bookshelves with books from flea markets and Piotr likes giving books away to friends and lovely strangers (we make a good team, don’t we?). So, it’s needless to say that we had an itch to do something with books for a long time.
Initially we were inspired by a small library project somewhere across the pond (Piotr stumbled upon this picture of wrapped books while aimlessly browsing the Internet). A couple of entrepreneurial librarians in Australia came up with a simple idea to recycle books by wrapping them up and giving away to speculating readers. This is how our idea was born.
After that, we tweaked the concept several times and added a little jeopardy: We tweet about future book dates using hashtags and post book excerpts on our website to hint at the genre or plot. We also enrich the book-dating experience with geotagging. In other words, we pin our next book-date location on Google Maps. You are very welcome to check it out on our website.
Are the books in English or German, or both?
The original idea was to send only English-speaking books on blind dates with Berliners. However, having listened to the voice of our little community, we have decided to change this. We no longer discriminate books based on language and we spread our book love in both English and German. (*pssst* Expect to see a German version of our website sometime soon in the chilly autumn months to come.)
How many blind dates have you set up so far?
Blind dates with books? Four (and counting) in two weeks of our existence. There are many more to come.
Blind dates with people? None so far, but you never know.
Are there any books on your own shelves that you are wed to, and would never give away?
This might sound quirky but Nadia would never part with her collection of dictionaries – several rather thick volumes of Oxford English dictionaries and a much more humble collection of German, Russian, Polish and Finnish ones. Whenever she moves to a new place, there is a spot on the shelf ready for a new dictionary filled with words of an unfamiliar language.
Now, Piotr discovered a real gem of a book some time ago and he is certain he will never forget the life lessons this book once taught him. Overwhelmed by the speech of an upbeat and terminally ill professor, Really Achieving your Childhood Dreams, Piotr rummaged through bookstores in his hometown to find his biography. The title of the book is The Last Lecture and the said academic who captivated the world with his cheerful and inspirational take on human life is Randy Pausch.
What do you hope Berliners will gain from the project?
A thrill of anticipation. We would like Berliners to get impatient about books. But, of course, patient enough to get through the week until the next blind date.
In addition, we aspire to mainstream the understanding that books are more than just their covers and can live in an ecosystem in which they have several ‘lives’.
Book Flaneur is a free, non-profit community project. Follow them via Twitter @bookflaneur, like, pin, share, subscribe, and upvote their website to help spread the word. You can also support them by suggesting local businesses and interesting places to drop off books, donating a fiver, books, or giving them a high-five.