Can Kafka Subway Billboards Boost Literacy in Mexico?

Librerías Gandhi, one of Mexico's largest book sellers, has teamed up with Mexico City's subway authority to inspire passengers to read more.

Can Franz Kafka's short story "The Bridge" turn subway riders in Mexico City into avid readers? That's the hope of a new literacy awareness campaign from Librerías Gandhi, one of Mexico's largest book retailers. The bookstore has teamed up with the city's transportation authority to place billboards, each featuring an excerpt from the story, in 13 stations along the subway's yellow line.

Data from UNICEF shows that Mexico's adult literacy rate is 93 percent, which is pretty good compared to other countries. However, just because someone can read doesn't mean they ever crack a book. According to Librerías Gandhi, the average Mexican only reads 2.7 books per year. Literacy advocates hopes that riders will see the text while commuting to work and get inspired to read more.

The Kafka story isn't book-length—it clocks in at an easily digestible 343 words total. To read the entire thing in sequential order, a passenger will have to ride from the Politécnico to Pantitlán stop. But just in case someone doesn't travel that complete distance—or if they liked the story so much that they want to read it again—print copies of the story will be available too.