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Underground Literature
Emily Gertz, 18 Apr 04

A program in Mexico City is giving away free books in the subway. (Real Media link from NPR) The stories, prose, and poetry are short enough to finish on the average subway ride; readers drop the books off as they leave the Metro. Mexican authors were paid about USD 300 for use of their works but see the real payment as increasing in-country interest in their writings. The program gets books into the hands of those Mexicans who often can't afford to buy them. And transit officials also hope that crime in the system might decrease if people are busy reading rather than picking the pockets of fellow riders. The Washington Post quotes a Metro official: "Cruz said the idea originated in discussions about how to make the subway safer. While some consultants argued for placing armed guards on trains, he said, Metro officials decided to try improving the atmosphere with books instead of guns."

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Cool - sounds like a great idea for promoting books at least ...

"People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading."

--Logan Pearsall Smith

Posted by: luke on 18 Apr 04

I was just talking with my sister about this story.

It struck me, a few years back when I was still living in the Bay Area, that I'd never in my life seen a single specifically-Spanish-language bookstore. I'm sure they exist, but in my wanderings and business travel I've never seen one . . . while I have seen French and Japanese book shops, and not just in big cities.

Why? Lack of investment? Lack of product?

In any case, kudos to the Metro people.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 18 Apr 04

In the Porter Square T station in Cambridge, MA for years there was a book exchange. You could pick up a book or leave it. Magazines were also available, depending on the whim of the people who passed by. It was sponsored by the library but it is gone now.

Posted by: gmoke on 19 Apr 04



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