Woodruff Library, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 2/27/02 (Photo by Tasha Ruegsegger)

Public Library, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, 2/21/02 (Photo by Daniello)

Freefridge (by Christina Ray)

Boston Psychoanalytic Society Library, Boston, 1/24/02 (Photo by Steve)

Barnes & Noble, Court Street, Brooklyn, 11/14/01



Deborah Barnard -- - 5/16/02

So far, I've only placed one Freewords book. My friend and I managed to sneak into the Barnes & Noble in the UW village in Seattle, WA after closing time. Feeling a bit conspicuous, we slipped over to the fiction section and I placed in the "F" section.

It was definately a weird experience, bringing a book INTO a bookstore! And I got a tiny rebellious thrill to stick the Free Words Sticker on a post outside the store--I think Barnes & Noble is overpriced as it is, so something saying words are free outside its doors strikes me as funny-ironic.

My next placing will be in one of the UW libraries, I'm just not sure which one.

Megan MacDonald -- -- 5/9/02

Finally having a moment to rejoice in books for the sake of books, and not for the slightly less appealing bachelors degree which I will receive in less than two weeks, I stopped by Barnes and Noble in Santa Ana, CA yesterday to do some graduation gift shopping. As I stooped down to grab a copy of 'Catcher in the Rye,' for a friend, I noticed FREE WORDS. It did feel like I was being watched, and while I read the clear print THIS BOOK BELONGS TO WHOEVER FINDS IT I still felt like i must take it to the counter and make sure. When I got to the register I placed it to the side, but the checker grabbed it anyway. I told him I thought it was free, and he of course was fairly puzzled, and ultimately perturbed. "Somebody's been placing books on our shelves without us knowing.." he muttered under his breath. Imagine that, someone taking creative liberty in a book store. I was delighted by the discovery, and am choosing to send it along with Nick Bantok's new book to my best friend, as she is the original Salinger fan and Salinger seemed to have led me to the discovery in the first place.

A. Baker -- 4/3/02

I work at the circulation desk in the Library at Daytona Beach Community College in Daytona Beach, Florida. One of my associates found 'Free Words' as she was shelving books and brought it back to the Circulation Counter. I came in to work the night shift and found it on the lost and found table behind the desk. This is where objects and book that don't belong to the college's collection are place for retrieval by their owner's. I thumbed through it and discovered that the 'words' in the book weren't a story, or even a direct transcript of reflection of cognitive thought, but a collection of seemingly random words strung together. There was a card in the middle of the book leading me to, so I found the site. it made clear (well, attempted to) the purpose of the book. Not knowing the artist, or being familiar with her works, I was facinated by the site and Sal's vision of this aspect of art. As far as the book itself, it now resides on my desk next to a German language copy of Gone With The Wind, and a book named The Psycology Of Everyday Objects. I plan to hold on to it as, since it is apparently a limited printing, it may someday be of value. Perhaps by the time I retire, it will be worth a lot of money, and I'll be on the 3-D Antiques Roadshow with some appraiser telling me that a copy of 'Free Words' by Sal Randolph in good condition is very rare and worth a hundred million dollars! So, even after leaving the gallery, or being placed in random locations, Greed still figured in my decision to keep the book. As a final note, this is an interesting project, and I'm happy to have become a small part of it. Good luck in your future experiments, Sal!

A. Baker

Abi Pratt -- 3/25/02

I had the wonderful experience of receiving FreeWords
when I was feeling particularly blue about the world
in general. I kept a book for myself, and have
since been inspired to write entire descriptive
passages based upon one or two words found within
the book. The other books were deposited as follows:

Seattle Public Library
800 Pike Street
Seattle, Washington

Barnes and Noble
8th and Pine
Seattle, Washington

Twice Told Tales
University District
Seattle, Washington

And one went to an inquisitive woman on a bus who
was struck while reading the book over my shoulder.
She promised to pass it around, and inside the cover
she is writing an inscription, which encourages all
others who have read and passed on the book to sign
it as well.
Maybe it'll make it's way around the country.
Let's wait and see!

Sara Buria -- 3/20/02

This evening, I placed a FREEWORDS book at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Duluth MN. The book was placed in the poetry section, top shelf.

Jasmine -- 3/14/02

I'm a full-time student at Adelaide University, South Australia, so I have easy access to the university on campus, and also the university book shops. I slipped two copies into the library (one in the poetry section, another in the general literature section), and another two copies into Unibooks - again, in the poetry and literature sections (placed alphabetically under "F") respectively.

Sara Buria -- 3/6/02

I placed a copy of Freewords in the library at MRCTC (Mesabi Range Community and Technical College), in Virginia MN. It was placed in the fiction area in the catagory of "F" near a Fitzgerald authored book. The next book I placed in the Virginia Public Library, the "F" fiction section, I believe the third shelf, about eye level (at least for me). The other two books I will be placing shortly somewheres and will update and let everyone know. It is a great experience and a great project to be involved with.

Ken Bullard -- 3/3/02

I work at the Barnes & Noble in Asheville NC. I found "FREE WORDS" faced out in our music section as we were closing the store.

I'm fascinated. I brought the book home... but Monday I will take it back and place it somewhere else in the store.

This is fascinating!

Tasha Ruegsegger -- 2/27/02

Early February 2002: received five books & a handful of stickers
pondered awhile..

--book #1

kept for myself

February 14, 2002

--book #2

location: Robert W. Woodruff Library Emory University Atlanta, GA 30322-2870

Floor 5 Row PR508
B 8 A -> M9

Next to "Boredom" by Patricia Meyer Spacks [ PR408 .B67 S67 1995 ]

I first went up to the eighth floor and didn't see anything I liked so I just chose floor five which happened to be where most of the English/Literature/Etc. stuff is kept.

February 16, 2002

--book #3

location: Jen Library, Savannah College of Art and Design 201 E. Broughton Street, Savannah, Georgia 31401

If you go up the large staircase to the second floor, continue going straight towards the left of the stairs. I placed next to Anthology of American Literature by McMichael. [ PS 507 ]

I looked around for quite awhile thinking where I should put it & how I could take a photograph without getting too many stares. I ended up placing it at the end of a row where no one was around.

I still have two books left, I'll update soon.

Jessica McCabe -- 2/26/02

So I got some of the Free Words delivered to me in Borås, Sweden a few weeks ago.

First I placed one almost immediately in a book shop in the center of town called Akademibokhandeln. There are always people lurking about in the book stores here because there arent that many so I had to be extra sly. I was there today again and didnt spot it so I assume someone took it :)

Today the big book sale started across the whole country. Tons of people in the book stores so I took another chance and placed two in Wettegrens. I saw someone looking at it almost right after I placed it on a tall stack of art books for sale. I couldnt hang around there long but Im sure it will be picked up by the end of the day.

I still have a few books to place but that shouldnt be a problem. Tomorrow I'll make my way to Åhlens and leave a book or 2 there as well :)

Its been fun!

daniello (saskatchewan, canada) -- 2/21/02

i have a funny, ironic story to share about my experience as a FREE WORDS distributor. i live in a small, run-of-the-mill city in saskatchewan where there isn't a whole lot of "alternative" culture; actually, there isn't much of any kind of culture at all. those who know me consider me to be rather quirky and "weird" compared to most of the people around here.

i placed one of the FREE WORDS books on a shelf in the library where i work, and distributed a few stickers around the place, including in the extensive free pamphlet collection we have in the entry room. i kept checking on it every time i worked, but it didn't look like anyone was noticing it.

finally, a few weeks after i'd planted it, i guess a coworker found it. he didn't know what to make of it and turned it over to our boss. i was working that night, and she approached me with it:

"here, someone found this book just sitting on the shelf tonight. they've been putting weird stickers up all over the place too. it looks like it might be just your kind of thing, why don't you take it?"

i smiled and accepted.

Hieu -- 2/17/02

I think the strangest part about placing the book is deciding exactly where to place it.

For example, in a seven story library, where would be the best place for a collection of random words? The section on linguistics? Or the section on poetry? Or perhaps you want to reach out to people who usually aren't preoccupied with the beauty of words... the section on biochemistry, perhaps?

sarah -- -- 2/14/02

sal sent me 5 books and 13 stickers. today I gave my english teacher one at school (sort of a valentine's day present), and she said "this is the most interesting gift anyone has ever given me." she liked it a lot. after school, my boyfriend and i went to borders (a new bookstore here in nashville). we placed one book on a "new hardbacks" display that was right in front the entrance where it stood out really well and we sat in the cafe where we could watch it. we couldn't stay long but we watched about 15 people walk though the doors and completly ignore the book. about the 5th person who walked in went almost straight to the book though. she flipped though it, stopped and read one page, and sat it back down and walked off. before we left, we put the book in the art section between a lot of small books where it kind of sticks out. we also put 3 stickers on 3 different telephone poles that were somewhat far away from each other. oh, and there is one stuck on a railing at my school. when i place the other 2 books in bookstores i am going to sit and watch it be picked up, even if it takes me all day. i'll put it in a really obvious place. i have to see someone take one!

Dawn B. -- 2/14/02

Today I placed two copies in the Linköpings Stadsbibliotek (City Library) here in Linköping Sweden. One in the foreign literature section and one amongst the literary criticism of August Strindbergäs works. He is THE Swedish author, so that is probably a highly trafficked area. I will check in a few days and see if they are still there!

Bonnie -- 2/6/02

The more I understand about the book business, the more I adore FREE WORDS. Barnes & Noble and Borders sell their space out front, I recently discovered. Am I incredibly naive? I'd always assumed that bookstores
displayed out front the books they thought would interest their customers. But no. A superb review won't get you out front at the chains (and the whole world is becoming a chain, isn't it?). Nor is the chain thinking about the taste of the local people. It's all about cash payments - exactly as in a grocery store.

What's wrong with that? Only that fewer and fewer people are deciding which stories we see and hear. And as with TV programmers, they're obliged to think about pleasing the most colossal audience they can muster. What this means is that Big Books will devour the attention that once was shared by small ones, and a certain glitsy monotony will hold sway. Contemplating all this today, I felt happier and happier thinking of FREE WORDS. How nice to subvert the real-estate reality of the bookstore (which wouldn't be so bad if more people knew about it, perhaps). How nice to slip into the shelves of corporate America this sweet pink volume of errant language! Free to be taken, given for free, created by one individual and set forth by those who earn not a cent from its distribution, it seemed suddenly touching - a fabulous gesture, and exactly what art should be.

maria -- -- 2/1/02

hi, today my friend alice and i placed a "free words" in our high school library, in a pretty openish spot... we'll see what happens. :)

anna -- 2/1/02

I found one at a Borders store, in Ohio.

christina -- -- 1/31/02

\ inspired by the images of the book on this site, i set out today (01.31.02) to find a copy of free words. at 4pm i went to spoonbill&sugartown in williamsburg, where i searched for fuchsia-infused covers. feeling like a detective, i completely cased the joint but came up empty-handed. disappointed, i turned to leave...but something caught my eye. there it was, on the table right in front of me! free words, shouted the cover. how could i have missed it? was someone casing me, casing the store?? did (s)he know what i was after and place it there while i wasn't looking? suddenly everyone in the store looked suspicious...was it that guy over there? the clerk at the counter? were they all watching me? i had to get out of there fast. doing my best impression of the casual customer, i picked up the book like oh, what's this? and walked to the back entrance. with nary a backward glance i left. i could almost hear faint footsteps pursuing me...

so i now own a well-deserved copy of free words, but it was a harrowing experience. perhaps it will disappear from my bookshelves one day...but if i wake up tomorrow with another copy under my pillow, i'll really be worried. the words may be free, but the book has a strange effect...pursue with caution...and enjoy.

Blair -- -- 1/29/02

This evening I left copies of Free Words in Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in Merritt Island, FL. In Barnes & Noble, the section about free stuff, etc. and the language section are right next to each other, which I thought worked out kind of nice. I left the book in that area. In Books-A-Million, I placed it in front of the 20th Century Art Book in the art section. I tried to place stickers outside of the stores, but mall security guards were hanging around.

Next week I plan on leaving copies in the Central Brevard Library in Cocoa, FL and the BCC/UCF library in Cocoa, FL. It will also be easy to put up some stickers there too.

Bonita X -- 1/24/02

I insinuate FREE WORDS into conversations, sometimes. I try to convey a sense of the mood of the book, which to me is very summery (maybe because the opening of the book is full of summer) and sexy (maybe because the texture of the words makes you want to hold them in your mouh), and hot pink. There is a way that when I think of FREE WORDS it seems like molecules held in suspension, with all this energy vibrating in the white space between the words. I find that some people get mad at the idea of a book with no clearly defined story. They feel like: This is a book, but it's taking the easy way out! Other people want to get the book so they can pilfer the words for freewrites. To me the book is like those packets of seamonkees I always meant to send away for as a kid: you drop them in water and they come to life. FREE WORDS seems like packets of seamonkees, dehydrated, ready to come to life when immersed in the right solution, the right ethos.

Steve -- -- 1/23/02
I slipped a copy of Free Words into the Hanns Sachs Library at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. So far, no one seems to have noticed. In that line of work, I expected someone to find it quickly, but it's still sitting on the shelf, right at eye level. I'm sure it will make for some good conversation when it's discovered.

Ana Karina -- -- 1/11/02

The first free words book i left at Quinn Library-Fordham University at Lincoln Center. I put the bright pink book between two Kit Carson biographies. As i was leaving the library, two old men at the front desk were staring at me, I wondered if they knew, but they couldn't have seen me. I'm probably just really paranoid. The rest of my books I left in Queen's Flushing library. I put one in the art section next to a book on cuban art, Another on the "New Age/Astrology" display, and two others in the "New Arrivals" display. A woman picked one up and leafed through it, but didn't take it- but I could tell she was thinking about it. I suppose it's hard for people to believe they can just take such a cute and brightly colored book. I also placed a free words sticker on the lamp post outside Flushing Library. It looks so pretty.

A. Sleep -- -- 1/2/02

I put the copies of Free Words that Sal sent me in the poetry section of a Borders bookstore @ Sambusco Center, in downtown Santa Fe. Was a rush... a couple of curious people got stickers..

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when people found them, or tried to walk out with them, or asked an employee... etc etcetc... what kind of situations were they?

Bonnie Friedman -- 12/8/01

Sal Randolph and I tromped around my neighborhood of Brooklyn insinuating FREE WORDS onto shelves in my local bookstores. Every book we placed - in the Waldenbooks on Montague Street, in the Barnes & Nobles on Court Street - seemed tinged with a sort of thievery.

Placing these books reminded me of an afternoon when I was about twelve, and lonely, and I wrapped up a box of my favorite cookies and buried them in my apartment building's backyard in the Bronx, then drew up an elaborate treasure-hunt map that culminated in the discovery of the cookies. I left the map coiled in a nearby fence. I wanted to provide some other child with the joy of both a treasure hunt and a prize. It pleased me tremendously to imagine some other solitary child happening upon the treasure map and tracking the prize. The look on his or her face when they found the cookies! My only sadness was that I never knew that afternoon or the next if a child had discovered the map. In fact, the questioned lingered all during sixth grade. Placing FREE WORDS around Brooklyn reminded me of that - setting a prize out in the world, hoping for its collection.

Lisa -- eviltwin13 -- 12/2/01

There was something odd about the Oprah's Book Club selections -- a skinny pink volume that didn't seem to fit with the others, and that didn't have the big O seal of approval on the cover. I don't usually venture into Oprah territory, but I had to investigate. When I realized that I had found something neat, I decided I had to keep it. I looked at the back cover -- "This book is free." Free? Did that mean I could just stick it in my bag and leave with it? Did the bookstore folks even know it was there? I put it in my bag and kept shopping. Eventually, I left with it. It's on my bookshelf now.

I have since decided to create a little project of my own out of it -- I am going to pass it around to some folks, and we are going to use up every single word in it to make a writing collection of our own. It'll be hard to do, especially with all the technical terms and the fragments, but the result could be really exciting.

As someone who struggles with writers block on a regular basis, it's wonderful to make a find like this, which is in essence giving me license to use whatever word I want in whatever way I want. For someone trying to write, that is freedom.


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