China: Beijing metro users access free e-books

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A person holding a phone to scan the barcode on the metro carriageImage source, CCTV
Image caption,
A simple scan gives Beijing metro users access to a mini library

Finding something to read on the underground just got a bit easier in Beijing, where travellers can now access a free electronic library.

Carriages on Line 4 of the city's metro feature barcodes which people can scan with their tablets or smartphones, China's BTV News channel reports. They'll be able to choose from a selection of ten books, which will change every couple of months. The first books available are about historical Chinese texts. "I think we have found a great, effective and handy tool to make traditional culture popular," says Rong Jun, a spokesman from the city government, which is supporting the initiative along with the National Library.

Officials are hoping it will encourage people to read more, and passengers interviewed on the underground were pleased with the new resource. "It's pretty interesting," one man using the e-library tells the CCTV news channel. "You can gain an understanding of traditional Chinese culture - it's excellent." Another man tells the channel it will help keep people occupied during journeys. "Often you're sitting on the subway for a long time," he says. "Now you can scan a barcode and read a book. Even if you're just browsing for a while, that's pretty good." If readers get a taste for the books they find on their phones, they're in the right place to reach an even bigger selection; Line 4 has a dedicated stop for getting to the National Library in person.

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