New York Public Library turns subway cars into mobile ebook libraries

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This is so freaking wrong that I can’t even begin to rail against it – and this comes from someone who spent a decade on the Board of Trustees of our local public library, so you could say I’m a fan of books, reading, and libraries.

What society needs most right now are more unplugged spaces, not less. I mean, why do you think that social scientists have noted a precipitous decrease in empathy in the past few years? People need to learn to interact in non-mediated ways. They’re always heads down on a screen.

They need to ditch the wireless. That more addresses the root cause.

I don’t fucking get the hate here…

what the hell is the difference between paper and a screen here? the screen takes up less space.
also I have found i read a lot more with my ereader/tablet than I did with dead tree media.


We’re sorry…

Subway Library is not available outside of the United States.


Minor point:

The picture you posted is of a commons. I bet they are all reading the same couple of three papers.

Now everyone is in their own little universe/echo chamber.

And there are real difference between paper and screens (and you don’t have to go to a fuzzy McLuanesque interpretation of society, there are studies that back this up). [Don’t get me wrong, I occasionally use a tablet, but its a compromise of convenience, not an equivalence.]

The real point:

But regardless, my main point was not about how people read, but the absurdity of trying to give people “unplugged” spaces by giving them something else to plug into.

So what do you propose? People not reading on their commutes? Are physical books somehow different from Kindles in this case, or is all self-entertainment in a public place somehow wrong?


It is a subway/train car with commuters on the way to work.

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There are good and bad things about either. Personally I am happy to have the tablet when it means I don’t have to tote around a monster tome of a book that would take up 20 times the space in my manpurse.

I don’t really propose anything, other than to assert: giving people something else to plug into is not a way of giving them more unplugged spaces.

Really, that’s the scope of my comment. If the story would have been “we have a library on the subway” I would be cool with that (to reiterate, I’m a fan of libraries).

“It used to be that you were ‘unplugged’ on the subway, and even though you’re connecting to the wireless now, you’ll still have the sense of being unplugged when reading books,”

That’s what I was responding to. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

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I actually chose a dedicated reading device (a Kindle in my case) because it doesn’t have other apps, and can’t pop up a notification in front of my book and distract me. I know myself well enough that my chosen reading time is fragile, and that I’ll follow a notification and then just not read.

EDIT: Not sure what I was responding to with this, honestly. Thumbs up for e-readers?


So, before they were all together in a bigger echo chamber? Meh.


I think (please correct me if I’m wrong) you’re just bumping on the term “plugged in”. If there was a small shelf of books and short stories I get the sense you’d react differently. It’s just that, in 2017, a dedicated wifi network with some books on it is exactly the same as a shelf.

I live in Boston, and I see people reading on the T every day. I love seeing people reading. This encourages more people to do so. I’m in favor.


I am really good at getting into the settings and turning off like 98% of the notifications. I am currently on the new cheap nook. Battery life isn’t the best but otherwise it is nice. Also I keep the screen at minimum brightness and with white text on a dark screen which has helped me a lot when waking up in the wee hours as I now doze off in 20 minutes to an hour instead of turning on the reading light and end up being awake till I finish the book 2+ hours later.

If you see me on public transit without a book (almost exclusively digital anymore)(or pretty much anywhere else), please put me out of my misery.

This sounds to me like an argument for a massive reduction in library stock, ie; couple of three books.


With respect have you ever ridden a New York or any major city’s subway during rush hour? Building a shell of some sort may be the only way to stay sane in such an inhuman environment.

Look at the picture of the subway car up there. Absolutely minimal comfort of the sort usually seen in a police holding cell (and in fact, the holding cell will probably have a toilet and drinking water) and obviously intended to jam the maximum number of people into the smallest possible volume which means that is exactly what happens.

“Human interaction” is just about the last thing most people want in such an environment.


I used to live in DC, so yea (although it’s a lot more civil than NYC for sure).

Also, what people seem to be forgetting is just how good boredom is for you.

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