• Elsie Hernandez

Our Amazing Interview With The "Librarians of New York" Rosy And Hollie, Founders Of &quot

If you have been following our blog, by now you know how much we love to read. So when we discovered "Books on the Subway" on Instagram we were ecstatic with the idea. Hollie Fraser and Rosy Kehdi were able to think out of the box by reaching millions of people that ride the train every day through the love for books. It’s a library in the subway for those that enjoy passing time reading great books. So if you are lucky enough to find one, read it, then return it to keep the movement going. Think about it, you save money on books and you can enjoy sharing a connection with other train riders.

Rosy Kehdi, left, and Hollie Fraser, of Books on the Subway. (Photo Credit: Erynn Mattera)

What are your backgrounds and how did you become partners?

Hollie is from the UK and is an Art Director, working in advertising.

Rosy is from Lebanon and is an Account Manager, also in the advertising world.

Which is how we kinda met – virtually. In 2013, Hollie’s advertising agency where she worked in London posted on Facebook about her program Books On The Underground. Rosy, who followed that company on Facebook, saw the post and immediately decided to launch the program in NYC. So Rosy contacted Hollie on Twitter and that’s how we partnered together. So we really met on social media!

I read on your website that Hollie started the book movement back in London called "Books on the Underground". What inspired you to start "Books on the Subway" in New York City?

As soon as Rosy found out about Books On The Underground in London, she immediately wanted to do it in NYC. The city is a perfect environment for this kind of initiative. The subway is obviously part of everyone’s every day life, but doesn’t have the best reputation. As an avid reader, and someone who mostly reads in the subway (thank you full-time job!) Rosy wanted to bring a positive initiative to the subway and help NYers reconnect with books.

How did you know that New Yorker's would participate?

NYers are up for anything! There’s always fun things happening all around the city and the people have such an open mind to new ideas and new experiences. So we knew that they would want to participate.

Is the system working? Are you getting great feedback?

Absolutely! We have many people who are finding the books and posting about them letting us know they found it. Many are also sharing back when they are done. On social media, we’ve gotten a big following and positive feedback from everyone.

Where do you get the books from?

Authors and publishers contact us and donate the books to us.

Which train is more popular?

All of them! Regardless of which train/station we leave the books at, they’re usually gone within minutes! We work with volunteers to help us spread books across the whole of the subway. Our social media is just a small glimpse of what actually happens.

Where can people donate books?

Because of the number of books we’ve been receiving from authors and publishers, we’re currently not taking book donations. We’re overly swamped and booked months in advance with just the books we get from them.

What are the challenges that you have faced with this project?

The main challenge we face is being able to help as many authors spread their books as possible. But we don’t want to inundate the subway with books, we want to keep the grassroots core of the idea but also get as many books out there and keep inspiring as many people to read, as possible. So I guess our biggest challenge is getting that balance right and continuing to do it for all the right reasons.

What advice do you give to someone that wants to launch an idea like this?

It requires a lot of work and dedication to make this into a successful program in each city. So you must make sure you’re up for the work! Hollie established “Books On The Move Global” which includes all the new branches in different cities. If anyone wants to start a new branch in their city, check out the website and contact Hollie for all of the start-up information.

I saw on your website that you have received a lot of positive press, including from the New York Times. How does it feel to have achieved such an accomplishment and now launching worldwide?

It’s incredible! We never thought it’ll grow to this size, and obviously continue growing! We’re extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished but also feel the pressure of keeping it up and moving forward. We have lots of ideas that we’d like to bring to life and this gives us the motivation to do so.

Credit: NY Times

Tell us about your off the rails online book club? (Another awesome idea!)

It started off as a group of our friends meeting up once a month at someone’s place. Naturally, we started posting about it on our social channels, and lots of people emailed us asking to join. Unfortunately, it’s not really possible to host a book club for that many people in our tiny New York apartments, so instead we decided to turn it into an online book club. Every month, we select a book to read with our followers and open up the conversation on Instagram for everyone to discuss and share their thoughts. This month’s book is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (July).

If anyone wants to join us, tell us how you’re enjoying it using #OffTheRailsBookClub!

Do you have any new projects that we should look out for?

We’ve got a few in the works but still in the early stages, so not entirely ready to share yet!

Thank you for a fabulous interview Rosy and Hollie!

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