Penguin Random House and Transit Wireless have launched Subway Reads, an eight-week-long promotion that celebrates the installation of free Wi-Fi in more than 175 underground New York City subway stations by providing customers with access to five free e-shorts and samples from some 175 books to read while on the subway.
In announcing the program yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, "We've made tremendous progress in modernizing the system, and Subway Reads is a fun way to introduce riders to the new Wi-Fi experience." By the end of the year, all 278 underground stations should have Wi-Fi.
Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle said, "For millions of New Yorkers, having a few minutes to get lost in a great book is one of the true pleasures of riding the subway. This fun promotion provides commuters with a new twist on that classic--and classically New York--pastime, with great short fiction, and the chance to access extensive samples of some of the very best, and most entertaining books in the world."
New York City Transit president Veronique Hakim noted that "reading has been a key part of the New York commute for as long as there has been a New York commute."
The five free e-shorts are "High Heat," a Jack Reacher novella by Lee Child; F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz"; "3 Truths and a Lie" by Lisa Gardner; "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" by Edgar Allan Poe; and "At the Reunion Buffet" by Alexander McCall Smith.
The excerpts of longer works from 175 Penguin Random House titles include as many titles by New Yorkers or about New York as possible, including poetry from Walt Whitman and Billy Collins as well as selections from Beloved by Toni Morrison, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben and Open City by Teju Cole. Spanish-language titles include Manuscrito Encontrado en Accra by Paulo Coelho, Así es Como la Pierdes by Junot Díaz and El cuaderno de Maya by Isabel Allende.
Altogether more than 40,000 pages or 50-plus hours of reading are available on the Penguin Random House web platform. Riders can choose what to read by category, genre or length of reading time. They'll also be able to purchase the e-books in the promotion; the MTA will receive a share of revenue. This is the second time the company has tried such a venture. To celebrate its 80th birthday last year, Penguin held a similar program in the London Underground for most of August, as outlined by the Bookseller.