A Maldon woman has started up a book exchange which involves reading enthusiasts leaving behind surprise books in public places.

Toni Jones, 41, started the book search on Saturday, August 31 after being inspired on her summer trip to Lancashire where she first discovered ‘Look for A Book’.

She has since set up a Facebook page with her daughter Daisy, 18, and together they have planted books around Maldon that have been discovered throughout the week.

Toni said: “I should be going out Saturday to hide some more books, but I just would like more people to join in to get if off the ground."

“People who wish to take part can leave a book somewhere and attach a note with their name or their child’s name if they want.

“The idea is that the finder posts on the group page that they have found it and then can then read it and re-hide it when they are ready.”

People have been setting up similar groups in various parts of the country after it took off in Northwich this summer.

The Maldon, Dengie, and Mid Essex book search page has seen hundreds of people interested and planning to join in already.

Toni added: “You can leave any book that you would like for any age group, I haven't said no rude books, but I hope people use their common sense.

“I hope that it helps to encourage a love of books, and quality time between parents and their children as they read with them.

“It gives adults a pastime and gives them the opportunity to read a variety of books with no expense.

“Also, it gives people a chance to get outside in the fresh air and hopefully it is fun!”

John Guiver, of Tideway, discovered one of the hidden books last Tuesday whilst with some friends at the Prom near the Rossi ice cream kiosk.

The 67-year-old said: “I saw a bag with the message and book in it and thought what a wonderful thing to do, and my friends agreed.

“Shortly afterwards a family came to sit on the bench, eat ice cream and watch the kids play.

“A lovely lady was delighted to see the book, read the message, and took it with her to read and then to place it somewhere for someone else to enjoy.

“I didn't know that such a thing existed, but now have some plans for a few surplus books.

“It made me smile.”