Subway Reads offers free e-books based on the length of your commute

August 29, 2016

It can be a bit frustrating to start getting into a book on your commute when you just as soon have to put it down, which is part of the idea behind a new initiative called Subway Reads, a web platform that offers free e-books to subway riders that can be timed to their commute.

The program is a collaboration among the MTA, Transit Wireless (the company behind the $250 million+ project to put Wi-Fi in 278 underground stations), and Penguin Random House. According to the Times, the platform was launched as a way to promote the fact that connectivity has already reached 175 stations, but it will only last eight weeks. During that time, users can download novellas, short stories or parts of complete books to their cellphones or tablets, and they can make their selections based on how long they expect to be on the train (the formula accounts for about a page a minute).

Subway Reads
Screenshot from the Subway Reads site

Last year, as 6sqft reported, the Beijing subway introduced a permanent digital library that lets commuters download free e-books by simply scanning QR codes inside train cars. Dubbed “M Subway Library,” the National Library of China chooses 10 new titles every two months from more than 70,000 titles. Also last year, the London Underground ran a similar program to mark Penguin’s 80th anniversary, which is how transit officials got the idea to team up with the imprint in NYC.

As the Times explains:

Subway Reads is offering five novellas or short stories, what Penguin Random House calls e-shorts. Three are by contemporary writers: “High Heat” by Lee Child, “3 Truths and a Lie” by Lisa Gardner, and “At the Reunion Buffet” by Alexander McCall Smith. Two are classics: “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe. There are also dozens of excerpts from books, fiction and nonfiction.

In addition to touting the progress made on wiring subway platforms (originally the project was to be completed by 2018, but Governor Cuomo fast-tracked it, and the 98 remaining stations that are in Brooklyn will be connected by the end of the year), Subway Reads will hopefully get other book publishers thinking creatively about digital readers and mass transit.

[Via NYT]


Lead image via Jens Schott Knudsen/Flickr

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