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Free e-books come to the subway system

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: A man walks past a subway stop in Manhattan two days after a man was pushed to his death in front of a train on December 5, 2012 in New York City. The incident was caught by a photographer and has since raised questions as to why someone didn't help the man before the train struck him. The New York City subway system, with 468 stations in operation, is the most extensive public transportation system in the world. It is also one of the world's oldest public transit systems, with the first underground line of the subway opening on October 27, 1904. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Free books are coming to stations with wireless connectivity. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Free books are coming to the subway.

The MTA will offer access to free wireless copies of literature, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday. Subway Reads, which lets straphangers check out five short stories and excerpts from 175 novels, is available for eight weeks to celebrate the spread of Wi-Fi access in the subway system.

Wireless service is available at 175 subway stations and all 278 underground stations are expected to have Wi-Fi by the end of the year.

“New York’s transportation network must continue adapting to the changing needs of its ridership and a key part of that is delivering the amenities that have become essential components of everyday life,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Bringing Wi-Fi into underground stations helps riders stay connected throughout their commute, allowing them to check in with friends or family and access news or entertainment.”

Straphangers in stations with access can log in to the network and read works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe and Jack Reacher. Subway Reads, which is partnered with Penguin Random House, includes as many books by New Yorkers and about the city as possible.

Short stories and excerpts are categorized by read time to help customers pick a selection based on their commute length. The e-books will also be available for purchase underground with the MTA getting a cut of the revenue.

“For millions of New Yorkers, having a few minutes to get lost in a great book is one of the true pleasures of riding the subway,” Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle said. “This fun promotion provides commuters with a new twist on that classic – and classically New York – pastime, with great short fiction, and the chance to access extensive samples of some of the very best, and most entertaining books in the world.”