Could a subway swipe & read scheme for smartphones boost visits to public libraries?

© Max Pilwat, Keri Tan and Ferdi Rodriguez

If you have one, you know it's tempting to read stuff on your smartphone, wherever you may be. Of course, the lack of a WiFi signal underground means you can't be reading whatever it may be on the subway. But what if you could swipe your device over, say a poster, and get some free reading material, courtesy of your local public library?

The Underground Library by Keri Tan, Max Pilwat and Ferdi Rodriguez from Dezeen on Vimeo.

That's the proposal dreamed up by Miami Ad School students Max Pilwat, Keri Tan and Ferdi Rodriguez, for the New York Public Library, as a way of reaching the public, encouraging people to go visit their nearest library. Tan describes the project as an attempt to

Bring New Yorkers back to the NY Public Library by providing them with entertainment while on the subway.

Using Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology -- which allows the smartphones that do have it to establish radio communication with each other by touch or close proximity -- users scan a subway poster to download the first ten pages of a book.

© Max Pilwat, Keri Tan and Ferdi Rodriguez
© Max Pilwat, Keri Tan and Ferdi Rodriguez
© Max Pilwat, Keri Tan and Ferdi Rodriguez

Once the reader is finished with the short sample, they will be redirected to the closest public library with a hardcopy of the book.

© Max Pilwat, Keri Tan and Ferdi Rodriguez

It's hard to tell whether compulsive smartphone readers would find this inconveniently frustrating or a good excuse to walk into their local branch -- not to mention that the project's success would hinge on the titles selected to be sampled. Nevertheless, it's a potentially fascinating segue that would piggyback real paper books on top of the growing trend of electronic reading via smart devices -- possibly helping to effectively offset declining numbers of people visiting mortar and brick libraries. More over at Keri Tan's website.

Tags: Books | New York City | Public Transportation

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