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In Brazil, Subway Reading Means a Ticket to Ride

These books encourage reading by doubling as subway tickets

smithsonian.com

Some people never leave their house without a book to read on the train. Now, Brazil’s biggest pocket book publisher, L&PM Editores, aims to increase the count of readers-on-the-go. It's selling a line of classic literature and comics that double as subway tickets as a way to get Brazilians to stick their noses in a book.

The Ticket Books project started out as a promotion for World Book Day back in April, when the publisher gave away 10,000 Ticket Books at stations across São Paulo. Each Ticket Book has an RFID card embedded in the back cover that comes loaded with enough credit for 10 rides, which means that reader can simply scan their books at the turnstyle just like a normal subway pass. When the book runs out of trips, it can be recharged online, Leah Gonzalez Angue reports for PSFK.

This isn’t the first time that public transportation has teamed up with reading advocates to encourage people to read more books, but it is one of the longest-lived. For a few days last June, bus riders in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca rode for free if they were reading and for a week in October, while “Books on the L” turned some of Chicago’s subways into mobile lending libraries, Kristian Wilson writes for Bustle.

But the Ticket Books project in São Paulo was so successful that L&PM Editores is making it permanent and has even expanded the program to other major Brazilian cities. Now, subway riders can also purchase their own Ticket Book right at the turnstyle, Wilson reports. This isn’t just a great deal for bookworms: it’s a great way to encourage people to read more as well, as most Brazilians only read an average of two books a year. 

While there are only 10 books in the Ticket Books line right now, it’s an eclectic batch of classic literature and comics that includes Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, collections of Peanuts and Garfield comics, Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War and Quintana Pocket by Mario Quintana - just to name a few. Each book cover is illustrated with an original piece of art inspired by subway maps and if you order your Ticket Book online, the website can even suggest books based on how long your commute is.

It’s too soon to tell if the Ticket Books will be able to keep convincing Brazilians to read more books, but such a clever idea is worth a shot.

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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