Booktrails… the story of 22 used books

Over the last few months, I've been progressively upgrading the print editions of my books to digital editions; selling the print copies on Amazon to finance their electronic offspring. Uhuh, replacing atoms with bits.

With almost daily trips to the post office to despatch these used books, I began to wonder about the journey each book was taking to its new home. Were there any patterns or correlations in the places they were headed? Here's a simple BatchGeo map of their destinations…


Unsurprisingly, most titles (largely graphic novels) ended up in London, with the furthest (Y: The Last Man – Safeword) travelling 240 miles to Londonderry, and the closest (Head First HTML) travelling 16 miles to Oldham. Curiously, most of the comics headed South, whilst textbooks and novels headed North!

Really, I should have spimed every title by adding it to BookCrossing and hopefully been able to trace it's lifetime of ownership. Sadly, my nerd prescience wasn't so acute.

What's to be learned from this? There's no social graph here, or recommendation algorithm, just some geo-sprayed representation of my tastes.

However, it returns me to the notion of books as social objects, objects that have lives beyond a single owner. How do we gift or sell ownership of digital artefacts to others when we no longer own, but are simply blessed with access; access mediated by corporations that won't always have your interests at heart. The only reason I'm comfortable buying Kindle editions, is because I know I can break the digital locks if I need to – illegal yes, but by no means immoral.

Stallman was prophetic. Choose your data jailor wisely. DRM is now in your clouds…

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