Thanks to James Long for this (USA) link: Boing Boing: London Book Project to flood the tube with free books. And Karen of Euro Crime tells me that she found this article in the Australian press, which leads to the London Book Project website in the country of origin (UK).
"Have you seen any books lying around on the tube?" Karen asks me. No, but I have seen plenty of scrumpled and dirty free newspapers. Londoners get one in the morning and three every evening. In the evening, I run a gauntlet at King’s Cross main line, King’s Cross underground, Vauxhall or Waterloo underground and Vauxhall overground or Waterloo main line of aggressive people leaping out at me in each location waving the darn things, each and every day. The rival newspaper "hand outers" (what is the word for people giving things away?) stand next to each other and make you feel like a character from Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds in order to get past them. I have taken to removing my daily (paid for) newspaper or book out of my bag and holding it in front of me to show that I do not require reading material, but it does not make any difference. By the time I get to Kingston (zone 6) the news-flappers have long since given up and one is left in peace.
In the mornings, I am refugee using the (slightly slower and marginally less annoying) overground train service to avoid the horrid underground (overcrowded, smelly, grotty trains and impolite behaviour of many fellow-travellers). In the evenings I use the tube because the train connection times aren’t good — ghastly experience. The book project is the best argument I have yet seen for returning to the tube in the mornings, but as I see it is an official London Underground initiative, I can’t help wishing they’d spend the money on improving the service, even though that probably makes me a Philistine.
Well, that was a bit of a blogger’s rant. I hope I’ll be calmer next time.