Monday, 11 February 2013

Adventures of a London Paperback

Sometimes you come across an idea which leaves you wondering, why didn't I think of that?

Books on the Underground is one of those.

You read a book, you love it. What to do with it now? Perhaps storage space is a premium in your flat and your bookshelves are groaning under the weight of too many novels. Maybe you have your next book ready to go in your bag, and would really appreciate not having to lug about two any longer.

This is where Books on the Underground and their clever packs of stickers can help. Simply add one of these to the front of your book:

Then you can happily leave it behind as you go for a fellow commuter, as you may with your morning Metro, and voila! Your book lives on, there to unexpectedly brighten someone's otherwise grim morning travels. Whoever finds the book can then tweet their find (@BooksUndergrnd), read, then leave it on the Tube when done. Meanwhile, you can follow the progress as it travels the London Underground through Twitter or the Books on the Underground blog.

I've not come across one of these books yet, but I'm looking forward to the day I do. I'm really hoping I might benefit from the team's Valentine's Day "Love on the Underground" tie-up with Mills & Boon...

London may be a city with a dog eat dog reputation, but I genuinely believe it has a good heart - you can witness this is the little everyday acts of kindness that happen out the corner of your eye. The Underground represents a microcosm of the best and worst of London, from the shoving and elbowing to people offering their seats to those in need. This idea represents London at its best, the desire we all have deep down to be part of a community and to share kindnesses, even towards those annoying folk who don't take their massive backpacks off in a busy carriage (a particular bugbear of mine - grr!).

I just love the idea of these humble paperbacks travelling to the furthest reaches of the Tube and back, passing through different homes and handbags. It's like a fightback against the destiny of most books to gather dust on shelves, and instead they're out in the world, exploring and adventuring. If only books could talk....

As Kindles, iPads and Kobos become increasingly part of a commuter's armour, it's great to see physical books playing such a fun role in the rush hour. So, how to get involved? Visit the blog, have a read and request stickers to add to your books. Here's hoping I'll be lucky to stumble across one soon!

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