Commuting is always better with something to read — and to make sure you don't find yourself lacking, there's now a new service that provides free ebooks to NYC commuters. It's everything you've ever wanted while being crammed into a subway car at rush hour, wishing you had something to distract you from the crushing press of humanity all around you.
Called "Subway Reads," the platform, which is offered by Penguin Random House, offers people a range of free ebooks to read while they travel. It's part of a partnership between the publishing giant and New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority designed to showcase the new wireless network available in the New York City subway. The city first started wiring subway stations for WiFi in 2011, with the plan being to make WiFi available at all stations by 2018. Happily, the project was actually accelerated; it's now on track to finish by the end of the year. Only 98 stations of the more than 400 in the New York subway system currently lack WiFi access.
The upshot of all this is that you can download a book from your subway platform — and what's more, with "Subway Reads," you can pick something exactly matched to your commute time. The service offers a broad range of short stories, novellas, and excerpts from full-length books. You can find classic short stories from authors like Edgar Allen Poe, or classic novels like Breakfast at Tiffany's. But there are also more modern offerings, such as A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan or the latest George R.R. Martin book. You can even pick young adult sensations like If I Stay by Gayle Foreman or Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Because kids use the subway, too.
There's also an impressive selection of non-fiction titles, which allows you to learn something on your commute as well. The whole thing is pretty perfect.
So how does it all work work? It's actually really simple. Just go to the "Subway Reads" website while you're waiting on the platform, and select the short story or excerpt you want. It will load on your phone or tablet — in a convenient, easy to read format — and by the time your train pulls up, you already have a commute's worth of reading material all queued up for once you lose wifi access again in the tunnel. And if you don't finish in the allotted time, don't worry — it'll still be there for you to finish later.
Don't get too used to this whole thing, though. The project, which is similar to one that Penguin Random House ran in London, will only last for eight weeks. It started last Sunday.
Best of luck, commuters!