BRUSSELS, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Inspired by the success of Pokemon Go, a Belgian primary school headmaster has developed an online game for people to search for books instead of cartoon monsters, attracting tens of thousands of players in weeks.
While with Pokemon Go, players use a mobile device's GPS and camera to track virtual creatures around town, Aveline Gregoire's version is played through a Facebook group called "Chasseurs de livres" ("Book hunters").
Players post pictures and hints about where they have hidden a book and others go to hunt them down. Once someone has finished reading a book, they "release" it back into the wild.
"While I was arranging my library, I realized I didn't have enough space for all my books. Having played Pokemon Go with my kids, I had the idea of releasing the books into nature," Gregoire told Reuters.
Though it was only set up a few weeks ago, more than 40,000 people are already signed up to Gregoire's Facebook group.
Pokemon nostalgia and toys through the years:
Pokemon nostalgia and toys through the years
Pokemon nostalgia and toys through the years
F 358091 002 27Sept99 California (679941) Pokemon Craze Hits America. (Photo By Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN: Japanese children participate in a Pokemon (Pocket Monster) card game tournament, which attracted some 35,000 people in a week-long event, in Tokyo 04 August 1999. Some 1.4 billion Pokemon cards have been sold across the world after Pokemon emerged in 1996 as Nintendo Gameboy software in Japan and soon became very popular among children. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
TOYKO, JAPAN: Flight attendants of Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) introduce its new 'Pokemon (Pocket Monsters) Jet', which begins its domestic operations 21 June 1999 at Tokyo International Airport. The Boeing 747-400 bears the design of the first prize winner of the Pokemon design contest. Pokemon emerged in 1996 as Nintendo Gameboy softwear in Japan and soon captured the imaginations of children across the nation. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
F 358091 001 27Sept99 California (679941) Pokemon Craze Hits America. (Photo By Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN: Two stills from the hugely popular 'Pocket Monster' or Pokemon cartoon. The hero of the animated program is Pikachu, shown at top glowing with electricity. Nearly 600 people, mostly children, were rushed to hospital across Japan 17 December after feeling sick while watching the animated cyberspace adventure. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
1999 Pikachu And Ash In The Animated Movie 'Pokemon:The First Movie.' (Photo By Getty Images)
1999 (L To R) Vulpix, Geodude, Pidgeot, Charizard, Onix, Staryu, Coldeen, Zubat, And Psyduck In The Animated Movie 'Pokemon:The First Movie.' (Photo By Getty Images)
1999 Mew In The Animated Movie 'Pokemon:The First Movie.' (Photo By Getty Images)
Two children display their Pokemon cards in New York city November 12, 1999. In anticipation of the overwhelming demand for the new limited edition Pokemon trading cards being given away in conjunction with the November 10 release of Kids'' WB! Presents 'Pokemon The First Movie,' the Warner Bros studio is attempting to increase the quantity of available cards. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Liaison Agency)
Children look at some of the close to 80 quilts that were donated by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, covering West Ventura County, to the Ventura Police Dept., to be distributed to accident and crime victims. At right is a Pokemon quilt. (Photo by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Tsunekazu Ishihara (L) co-creator of Pokemon Universe introduces a new character called Chikorita at the Los Angeles Convention Center 09 May, 2000. The event was organized by Nintendo of America to launch two new Game Boy Color games: Pokemon Gold and Silver. In Japan, players bought more than five million units of these games in the first five weeks following its November 1999 launch. AFP PHOTO/Hector MATA (Photo credit should read HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 01: Film 'Pokemon' In United States In September 2000-Pikachu and Ash. (Photo by Karine WEINBERGER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: The 'Pikachu' balloon sponsored by The Pokemon Company floats down Broadway during the 75th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 22 November 2001 in New York. New Yorkers crowded the streets to watch the 75th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, an extravaganza of 15 giant balloons and marching bands with an added touch of patriotism. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Atmosphere during Official Launch of Pokemon Colosseum with special performance by 'School of Rock' Cast Members at Rockefeller Center in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
NEW YORK - MAY 6: Hideki Matsui #55 of the New York Yankees poses with Pokemon's pikachu and piplup before the game against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on May 6, 2007 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
TOKYO - JULY 16: Pokemon's figures are on display during the International Tokyo Toy Show 2009 at Tokyo Big Sight on July 16, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan.The Toy Show will take place until July 19 expecting 150,000 visitors. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
TOKYO - JULY 16: Japanse popular anime charactor Pocket Monster (Pokemon) shaped pancake is being made at Tomy's booth during the International Tokyo Toy Show 2009 at Tokyo Big Sight on July 16, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. By putting all the ingredients in the pot, shake it, put it in the Pokemon shaped mold and heat it in a microwave, children can easily make pancake themselves. Tomy will put it on the market in November 2009 with the price of 3780 yen. The Toy Show will take place until July 19 expecting 150,000 visitors. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
A Pokemon backpack from Nintendo at the Toy Fair 2011 on February 15, 2011 at the Javits Center in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
A customer looks at a stuffed Pokemon doll, a media franchise published and owned by Japanese video game company Nintendo, in Tokyo on October 24, 2012. Nintendo slashed its annual net profit forecast by more than half and said it remained in the red for the first half of its fiscal year. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
Attendees play the new Pokemon X and Pokemon Y video games on the Nintendo Co. 3DS at a launch event in New York, U.S., on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. Nintendo, which created blockbusters like Super Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong in the 1980s, has struggled to adapt to a consumer shift to smartphones and tablet computers. Photographer: Louis Lanzano/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A customer looks at stuffed Pokemon dolls, a media franchise published and owned by Japanese videogame manufacturer Nintendo, at a Pokemon shop in Tokyo on January 29, 2014. The head of Nintendo said on January 29 he would slash his pay in half as the videogames giant said its nine-month profit slumped 30 percent because of weak demand for its Wii U games console. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
Costumed performers as Pikachu, the popular animation Pokemon series character, perform at the Yokohama Dance Parade in Yokohama on August 2, 2015. The dance began on August 1 and will run for 65 days throughout the city, with more than 200 dance programmes. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
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The hidden tomes range from books for toddlers through to Stephen King horrors, placed around Belgian towns and countryside, often wrapped in clear plastic to keep off the rain.
The Detournay family from the town of Baudour in southern Belgium said the game was now part of their morning walks. They found one book and left four others for people to find.
"My daugther said it's like hunting for easter eggs, only with books," Jessica Detournay said.
When they returned home, they received a Facebook notification informing them that somebody had already found two of their books.
Gregoire is now contemplating taking the game a step further and creating an app for it.