Beijing commuters can now borrow free ebooks

Commuting can be a real snooze, especially when you’ve finished the book you’re reading and no one’s bringing their A-game on Instagram. But Chinese officials have found a great way to counteract the boredom (and bring a new meaning to the phrase ‘mobile library’) with their innovative idea to offer free ebooks for people travelling on the Beijing subway.

As Fast Company reports, by scanning a QR code on posters inside the train, people can download the book of their choice. The books are chosen by a team of librarians from the National Library of China, in an effort to encourage more people to read. They range from sci-fi to classics and there are 10 books available at a time, with the selection changing every couple of months. Most of the people who use service are students and young office workers, so the books are designed to cater to their tastes.

The initiative, called the M Subway Library, launched on one line of the subway this January, and subway operator Beijing MTR is now looking into expanding the scheme, including onto station platforms, so that people can pick up a free ebook as they’re elbowing their way onto a train.

According to Fast Company, a subway in Romania once hung a series of book prints featuring QR codes in its stations, but that was only temporary. If the Beijing project continues to be popular, it could be long-running, and perhaps other underground train operators will pick up on the idea, too.

Image by Hat600 via Wikimedia Commons.

Diane Shipley