This thesis is an empirical case study of how people are distributing used books for free within the phenomenon that calls it self ”BookCrossing - the world’s biggest free book club” based on participation at the monthly member meetings at the official BookCrossing zone at the Oslo Central Station.
There has in recent years been an economical concentration and centralization of organization in the book trade businesses in the UK, US and Norway. This has lead to a change in reading habits. BookCrossing is a global non-monetary, web based mass-collaborated ongoing project where people distribute physical, traceable books and exchange them in a number of ways. This practice represents a new phenomenon within the literary institutions, and this thesis explores how this implicates the activity in regards to change in reading behavior and ways of relating to books in general.
The first part of the thesis describes the network’s prevailing conditions and structure by drawing upon the classic gift economy theories of Marcel Mauss and socio-economical peer production theories of Yochai Benkler.
The second part argues how centralized markets tendencies leads towards unification in reading, and how diversity in reading and cultural variety through new networks on and offline can challenge commercial channels, through investigating the change in the informants reading habits as well as giving an indication on what the BookCrossers actually read.