BookCrossing.com is a labor of love that was conceived and is maintained by Humankind Systems, Inc., a software and internet development company with offices in Kansas City, Missouri, and Sandpoint, Idaho. Looking for a break from the doldrums of creating yet another e-commerce website (that's just what the world needs), or email server application (oooh, those are doubly exciting), Humankind partner Ron Hornbaker sought to create a community site that would be the first of its kind, that would give back to the world at large, and that would provide warm fuzzy feelings whenever he worked on it. BookCrossing.com was the result.
The idea came to Ron back in March of 2001, as he and his wife Kaori were admiring the PhotoTag.org site, which tracks disposable cameras loosed into the wild. He already knew about the popularity of WheresGeorge.com (which tracks U.S. currency by serial number), and that got him thinking: what other physical object might people enjoy tracking? A few minutes later, after a glance at his full bookshelf, the idea of tracking books occurred to him. After two hours of research on the internet, Ron realized, to his surprise, that nothing like BookCrossing had been done on any significant scale. And so they went to work. By 3 A.M. that night, they had decided on the name (zero hits for "bookcrossing" on Google), registered the domain, and Kaori had sketched the running book logo on a crossing sign. The rest was merely execution.
After getting the green light from his partners in the software company, Ron went to work programming the site from scratch the next day, and about four mostly sleepless weeks later, on April 17, 2001, BookCrossing.com was launched with a simple $500 press release, the last time money has been spent promoting the site. Members trickled in at the rate of 100 or so per month until March of 2002 when the Book magazine article was published. Since then, BookCrossing has been the focus of countless TV, radio, and newspaper features around the world, gets about 300 new members every day, has its own category in the human-edited Google Directory, and has been added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary as a new word. The fact that it has captured the passion and imagination of around 546,348 people worldwide, so quickly, has been a welcome surprise for everyone involved.