Well here is an interesting idea that will never, ever happen. Some students in Miami have whipped together a proposal for how the NYPL could both keep straphangers entertained underground and simultaneously bring more bodies into its brick-and-mortar libraries. E for effort, guys!
The idea, by Miami Ad School students Max Pilwat, Keri Tan and Ferdi Rodriguez, is sweet on first blush. The NYPL would put up posters in the subway which, when near phones with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, would allow users to download samples of popular books. When users finished the sample they would then be offered a list of nearby NYPL locations where they could pick up the rest of the book. Like so:
We admit, the idea itself is pretty enticing and would offer New Yorkers a chance to experience something Google employees have been enjoying in their office libraries for some time (no, not the
sex reading rooms, the digital bookshelves). There are just quite a few technical hurdles that would need to be dealt with before it could be a reality—not the least of which is the fact that phones equipped with NFC technology are still very uncommon in the U.S. Also? Equipping subway cars with NFC-capabilities seems like exactly the sort of perk the cash-strapped MTA can't afford these days—and let's not even get into the issues of testing to make sure installing NFC wouldn't mess with the existing electronics on subway cars!
So what to do while we wait for the future to catch up? We'll all just have to make do with the increasing number of subway stations with WiFi—where users can log into the eNYPL or one of the many eBook stores out there (all of which offer book samples already).