I’m on the subway often commuting from A to B. When I think about the whole commuting on public transit experience it just seems so mechanical. People are sandwiched in together sitting side-by-side, often touching arms and legs yet very rarely does anyone talk to each other. In a big city, we’re use to that “mind your business” coldness.
I’m often catching up on some reading like many others en route to our destinations. Rarely does anything exciting ever happen other than the odd delay.
But check this out. Were you on the subway this past Monday? Did you hear some hoot’n and holler’n? This is what went down…
OPERATION CODE NAME: Read On!
WHO: Julie Wilson (aka The Book Madam and author of SEEN READING), the Kobo Events Team, and yours truly!
MISSION: To catch 100 public transit riders reading (yes, Fifty Shades of Grey too) and reward each of them with a FREE KOBO Touch eReader just for being “caught” in the act of reading!
HOW COOL IS THAT?!!
I LOVE surprises – the good kind of course. Trailing this team of 10 was exciting, fun and it felt a little daring to be waking up a few unsuspecting morning subway riders. We were STEALTH sliding into the subway trains. To witness and experience something that rewards people for something good is beyond words.
But wait….who is JULIE WILSON?
Julie is a Toronto Blogger and considers herself a “Literary Voyeur”. She has recently published her book SEEN READING – inspired by her fascination with people reading in public places particularly on transit, cafes, park benches and doctors’ office. She been observing people doing the deed (reading of course) over the past six years in public and she claims she’s not a creep or stalker — she does practice an ethic of never intruding on someone’s private space!
She collects the information about unsuspecting readers who are deeply involved in the act of reading, then selects a few sightings and creates a response to each encounters forming a collection of microfictions. SEEN READING is a selection of her sightings and is based on her blog of the same name. YOU MUST GO CHECK OUT THE SEEN READING BLOG !
It was funny witnessing the reactions on the subway. When riders were handed over their Kobo Touch eReaders some were so taken back and thrilled with the look of “what the heck just happened here?” and then some had delayed reactions of “wait a minute, are you telling me you want to give me something for free???” It was a really good feeling. REAL GOOD.
You can download a free preview of Julie’s book SEEN READING at
Stay tuned for my interview with Julie Wilson that’s up next!
But I’ve got to shut-down my laptop now or I’ll miss my stop!!!!!
Here’s a quick video clip that capture the reactions of those lucky Kobo recipients! Pretty fricken’ awesome don’t you think?
Loved this and love seeing people reading! I was reading on the subway the other day and missed my spot…the only downside 😉
Thanks Anne! For sure!
Anne Green says
Hey Sonya thanks for the shout out! BTW… Mississauga DOES have public transit and there are many people who use it every day to get to and from Toronto and also around Mississauga. So come visit us some day!
Hey Robert! Thanks for dropping in! I’ll definitely pass on your suggestions to the events people who crafted this clever little stint! And enjoy Julie’s blog!
Robert runte says
Definitely neatest marketing concept ever, and I will definitely be having a look at “Seen Reading”.
But, um, I do have to sort of agree with Anne Green. As someone living in Western Canada, it is frustrating to know that publishers and media seem to think that Toronto is the entire universe. The subway promotion was brilliant, great little video…but where is the contest for people outside of TO? How about a contest where fans take pictures of people reading in cafes, at bus stops, on the beach or etc and post those –and the story of meeting said person reading to get them to sign the photo release form –to the blog, and choosing five winners out of the submissions? Something that would reach readers everywhere? Start a movement? Think beyond the TO box?
and thanks for the tight t-shirt. I can breathe again too! lol 😉
Mississauga is great and Hazel has done so much for the city! Maybe they need to invite more media out more often! But I don’t drive – public transit all the way! So,to my other media friends..go check them out!
Julie Wilson says
Thanks so much for joining us, Sonya! I think I’ve only just got my breath back. That was a pretty wild ride!
Anne Green says
Yeah Yeah Yeah… it’s cool… BUT…
WHY NOT MISSISSAUGA. I’m just saying… Mississauga is a cool fabulous city. It wold be nice if brands and their marketing teams paid a bit more attention to us!
I’m going to be at the media launch of the Mississauga Waterfront Festival on Monday. Several years ago I was at this event and Mayor Hazel was speaking. She pointed out that NONE of the Toronto Media that was invited came.
It gets a bit frustrating.
We’re a city of about 734,000 people from all over the world!
tHIS IS awesome!!!!!!!!!
It was priceless to see their faces! What you see on the video totally captured the moments!
It was pretty sweet!!!
that’s great! i think i would have been thrilled just to see someone win!
That sounds awesome!!
Hey! That’s Kimberley! I know her from the hood. Way to go! What fun!
AMAZING! I love this idea so much!
How great that you got to be a part of it and see the reactions first hand!
Loved this, loved seeing so many people so happy! Looking forward to reading Julie’s book.
OMG!!!!! This is amazing! Loved the expressions on the people. Looked like a lot of fun and I’m always reading a book on my way to work! Going to check out her blog now!