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Melbourne’s free paper war intensifies: Fairfax to launch free novels for pretentious commuters

[Edition 33] MELBOURNE, Tuesday: The Fairfax Group has announced plans to hand out free novels on trains and trams, in a bid to claim a larger share of Melbourne’s competitive commuter market.



The company hopes to capture a monopoly on pretentious commuters, who like to hold up impressive, highbrow books while travelling to work.

Showoff.

[Edition 33] MELBOURNE, Tuesday: The Fairfax Group has announced plans to hand out free novels on trains and trams, in a bid to claim a larger share of Melbourne’s competitive commuter market.

The company hopes to capture a monopoly on pretentious commuters, who like to hold up impressive, highbrow books while travelling to work.
A Fairfax marketer said he believed on certain inner-city lines a book like The Brothers Karamazov would be more willingly received than a copy of Fairfax’s Melbourne Express.

“Research showed us that many commuters don’t feel comfortable being seen in public reading a tabloid,” he said. “They’d rather be seen with a Tolstoy or Zola.”

Fairfax has devised a shortlist of elite titles to be distributed to commuters, including Midnight’s Children, 100 Years of Solitude and the complete works of Proust (in the original French).

“On student lines we’ll also be handing out Foucault’s Pendulum and To the Lighthouse, the Fairfax marketer said. “Unless of course the students are actually studying English, in which case we’ll just give them Brodie’s Notes.”

A plan to distribute Bryce Courtenay books on suburban tram lines is also under consideration.

Rival newspaper group News Limited says it has no plans to compete for the literary market, but did intimate it was “looking into” the distribution of free noisy Walkmans for commuters.

“Many of our readers like to annoy other commuters by playing loud dance music through their earphones,” a spokesman for News Ltd said. “And some readers would like a Walkman to hear the Talking Book version of our free paper, mx. They find the tabloid format a bit hard to follow.”

The spokesman said News Ltd will also consider handing out free fares to commuters to comprehensively win the war for cheapskate readers’ hearts.