NYC Subway Stations Now Have Their Own E-Book Service

For the next eight weeks, Subway Reads offers works from the likes of Emma Straub and Colson Whitehead

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Aug 29, 2016 at 5:30 PM ET

For the next eight weeks, New York City subway riders can download free short stories, novellas, and excerpts from Penguin Random House titles. But what makes the service, dubbed Subway Reads, distinct is that the stories are grouped according to the length of your commute.

The New York Times reports that riders can choose books or excerpts whose average read time corresponds to commute times of 10, 20, or 30 minutes. The current selection ranges from contemporary fiction like Emma Straub’s “Modern Lovers,” to short stories like Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Non-fiction options include Andre Agassi’s autobiography, “Open,” and Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love.” There are even New York-centric works, like a 17-minute excerpt of Colson Whitehead’s “The Colossus of New York.”

This snackable content promotes a social reading experience (the e-shorts have shareable pull quotes highlighted throughout) and promotes the existence of the 175 wi-fi hotspots that will be live by the end of 2016. Though the excerpts are limited, if readers don’t make it through the whole read, they can return to it later. (Or, they can buy it, and the MTA will get a cut of that sale.)

Either way, having something new to absorb your attention during a crowded, smelly commute will at least help pass the time, but there’s no guarantee it will make the ride any more pleasant.