Statistics on effective release zones for wild releases (catch rates and journal rates by country)

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I have read several interesting threads on what are the best locations for a wild release, in terms of how many released books get found or receive a journal entry:
https://www.bookcrossing.com/---/9395535
https://www.bookcrossing.com/---/9395527
https://www.bookcrossing.com/---/9395522
https://www.bookcrossing.com/---/9395508

However, the only "hard" numbers I found are the 1-2 % figure for a big sample of crossing zones in Germany and the 9-10 % catch rate seen on some of the most prolific users: https://www.bookcrossing.com/memberstats

Is there a systematic way (maybe for the bookcrossing.com staff?) to make a list of the most successful/effective sites? Say, the top 10 spots in a country by catch rate (or by number of catchers with a journal entry) among those with at least 100 released books.

 

the only "hard" numbers I found are the 1-2 % figure for a big sample of crossing zones in Germany

That number is about releases in public bookshelves and other book exchanges, not all types of crossing zones. A very relevant difference.

 

the only "hard" numbers I found are the 1-2 % figure for a big sample of crossing zones in Germany

That number is about releases in public bookshelves and other book exchanges, not all types of crossing zones. A very relevant difference.


Yes! It made me think again about using such crossing zones for bigger releases. After excluding these, however, we're often left without obvious candidates.

 

After excluding these, however, we're often left without obvious candidates.

So go with the non-obvious candidates! I've had good catch rates for books that were hung from trees, for example. Or placed in the hands of statues.

If you want to improve your catch rate, try for a release spot that's surprising, fun, and a place where people will naturally spend some time instead of rushing by.

 

is a great data source, link for automatic pdf download: https://pub.tik.ee.ethz.ch/---/MA-2011-10.pdf

 

is a great data source, link for automatic pdf download: https://pub.tik.ee.ethz.ch/---/MA-2011-10.pdf


Thank you! Fantastic work. I see it confirms the insight that restaurants are good for wild releases, in that they have the shortest "Transition time" (60 days). I'll ask if they can share the data.

 

I see it confirms the insight that restaurants are good for wild releases


It varies SO much because every book, every reader, every restaurant is different that I personally don't think you can generalize. I've left literally thousands of books in restaurants. Some have had good catch rates. Some none at all.

 

It varies SO much because every book, every reader, every restaurant is different that I personally don't think you can generalize. I've left literally thousands of books in restaurants. Some have had good catch rates. Some none at all.


It's just an average number, of course. As the saying goes, I ate two chickens and you ate zero, on average we ate one each.

But if the average is good it probably means that there are *some* restaurants which for some reason achieve high catch rates. Of course it might also be a spurious correlation, for instance it might be that some users are particularly effective with their wild releases for other reasons (selection of book, audience, time or other factors, as you said) and these users also happen to prefer some restaurants as their release zone.

If I don't get data to list the most effective release zones, I'm considering to hold a small experiment: releasing 100 copies of the same book on restaurant cars of long-distance trains leaving from one particularly high traffic railway station. For instance the Milan Central station has 200 long-distance trains with a restaurant car leaving every day between 6 and 18.

 


If I don't get data to list the most effective release zones, I'm considering to hold a small experiment: releasing 100 copies of the same book on restaurant cars of long-distance trains leaving from one particularly high traffic railway station. For instance the Milan Central station has 200 long-distance trains with a restaurant car leaving every day between 6 and 18.


That sounds like a cool project! One suggestion though, you'd have to make sure the staff were "on board". Places with vigilant staff constantly tidying up (like cafe cars on trains) are generally not great for releasing.

 

One was a book I left on an historical ruin on Norfolk Island. Lots of tourists.
https://www.bookcrossing.com/---/14922017/

The other was a book about possums I left on a statue of a pile of books with possums on the top.
https://www.bookcrossing.com/---/14922059/

I find fun and/or unusual places are often the best, as long as the place gets enough people visiting it.

 

Sorry for replying so late. I'm usually not reading this subforum.

For many years I have worked hard on exactly the stuff you request here. I have several datasets which I can explore, and spent really much work to try and find anything useful in them.

First of all: There is NO way to get significant results from evaluating the BC database as it is automatically. None at all. Forget it. There isn't. Everyone who tells different never has really looked at the data.

If you by chance happen to find a crossing zone with lots of "wild catches", it's most certainly a meetup location and those books haven't ever been wild released but just switched owner among the meetup participants. Or it's a post office that someone keeps to use for release notes for controlled releases and bookboxes mailed off (which are then "caught" by the next participant). There are tons of controlled releases with wild release notes, wild releases with no release note, meetup releases with wild release notes, OBCZ releases with controlled release notes filed to a different country... whatever silly combination you can imagine, it's there, and will poison your results with catches which are none and stuff you can't automatically assign.

The catch rates at the best real wild release locations may range around 30%, while the worst stay at 0%. However, there aren't many zones which have enough releases that they are statistically relevant, and if there are, you would need to know more about the books, like how they are labelled. If the book is not recognizable as a BC book from the outside, you better forget about it. Still, I know that there active BCers who don't use outside labels. Count their favourite release spots and you'll find "bad" ones although there's nothing wrong about the spot, probably.

For the other direction of misleading results, restaurants are a good example. If you try and evaluate all restaurant releases by that the crossing zone is a restaurant (yes, I tried that), you'll probably "find" that the catch rate is astonishingly high. But if you look into a random subset of the actual release notes, you'll find that most of the catches were meetup handovers, or there was an OBCZ in the restaurant and the maintainer of the OBCZ journaled all books brought there to get them on the OBCZ shelf. You can find zones with technical catch rates of 90% easily this way, without any real catches having happened there.

I could easily go on until the length limit of postings with more reasons why there isn't a systematic way to find successful sites.

However, I was still able to find the one or another hint. I can among other tell about my own releases, since I readjusted basically everything. I know for about 99% of my shelf where and how it really has been released and possibly caught, regardless of what the release note looks like, classified the release points and more aspects, and I actually got a number of results but more non-results - which is, that I had _expected_ to see some significant variance but when I actually had the numbers, the differences were too low to be of real significance. I could try and summarize them up, later, if you like, though.

But I guess you'll be curious what would be the best way to raise wild catch rates... Well, here we are:

** Go back to the year 2008, and release your books there. **

This would actually double the chance to have them caught, according to my numbers.

You don't have a time machine? Damn ;) So maybe you would like to see what classes of places came out with higher catch rates instead? Sure, I can do that, but there's less to win here.

Really, there's basically only one class that peaks out with a higher catch rate, and you already got that hint in this thread: Touristical and funny places. Anywhere where people are in leisure and exploring mood, and anywhere where a book is really surprising to find, you have a better chance to score a catch. Huts in the forest, statues in the park, trees, tourist hotspots. And the more surprising and possibly funny the find is, the higher is the chance that the finder actually writes a journal.

So, handing it to a statue is a much better idea than dropping it on a table. Be creative, find your own spots.

Also, mind that "the book is picked up and possibly finds a reader (regardless if it's journaled)" is NOT the same as "the book is picked up and possibly gets a journal entry". If you accept both as a "success", your task is less to find a place which motivates to write journals, but more to find one where the book is safe from being disposed by cleaning, security or other staff who don't understand or accept bookcrossing. Well, and there's why I don't release in restaurants. Those are private property, usually keen on staying "clean" and the staff hardly ever would leave a book where it is as soon as they find it.

Well, I will stop for now. Feel free to ask whatever comes to your mind. Chances are I might have tried something similar already ;)

 

Well, and there's why I don't release in restaurants. Those are private property, usually keen on staying "clean" and the staff hardly ever would leave a book where it is as soon as they find it.


In contrast, it seems I do *most* of my releases in restaurants or coffee shops, but almost always with the permission and approval (and sometimes delight) of the management, so I do know they won't get thrown out.

Then again, although I know my books are picked up, presumably by readers, I don't have a high "catch" rate, so if that's what you're looking for, I'm not the one to ask.

ETA: And there are definitely restaurants that have said no books, I just release in other restaurants where they are most welcome.

 

Well, and there's why I don't release in restaurants. Those are private property, usually keen on staying "clean" and the staff hardly ever would leave a book where it is as soon as they find it.


In contrast, it seems I do *most* of my releases in restaurants or coffee shops, but almost always with the permission and approval (and sometimes delight) of the management, so I do know they won't get thrown out.

Then again, although I know my books are picked up, presumably by readers, I don't have a high "catch" rate, so if that's what you're looking for, I'm not the one to ask.


I actually took a look at a subset of your releases, and you're right - most of your releases are in restaurants, and your catch rates are rather low. My system reports me about 5%, but the real number might be even lower (or a little bit higher, errors go in both directions).

I can send you some evaluations by mail/PM if you like.

 

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