Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus are certified bookworms and from their great love of books sparked a great idea. Berg, a copywriter, and Kalus, a primary school teacher, are founders of the Books on the Rail movement. The duo calls themselves “book ninjas,” as they leave free books in public trains, trams, and buses of Melbourne for commuters to find and for them to “take, read, and return.”
Kalus said, “We want people to follow the book’s own journey and adventure, and it’s really special seeing the way people are connecting with the books and each other.”
The books left in public transports have stickers on them that serve as a guide to readers. Their movement has inspired a lot to become book ninjas and have joined them by asking for Books on the Rail stickers and leaving books on public transports. They have also asked readers to include reviews of the book through social media and asked them to post photos whenever they find the books.
The Books on the Rail movement got its inspiration from Books on the Underground movement in London which was started by Berg’s co-worker.
“We hope to create a movement where the community drives the initiative, rather than just us,” wrote Berg and Kalus. “We’re already starting to see this happen on social media, which is very exciting! Hopefully in the future, every time you travel on public transport you’ll spot a Books on the Rail book!”
The duo’s program is self-funded and operated, but thankfully, their movement took off on social media and they are now receiving books from publishers and authors directly. Berg and Kalus also shared that they are planning to partner up with sponsors and Melbourne Metro to further help the program grow.