Notes from the underground: subway as bookstore?

Brooklyn Author Sells Books on Subway with Quirky Sales Pitch

On the New York City subway, Brooklyn-based author Stephen Witt pitches his two novels “American Moses” and “The Street Singer: A Tale of Sex, Money and Power in a Changing Brooklyn.” YouTube image via Stephen Witt

In the age of all things digital, fewer and fewer people are going to bookstores to buy books and it is becoming increasingly difficult for authors to connect to their readers. But according to Brooklyn Eagle, Stephen Witt, the Brooklyn-based author of “American Moses” and “The Street Singer: A Tale of Sex, Money and Power in a Changing Brooklyn,” has adopted a new approach to promoting his books. Wearing his trademark derby hat, Witt has been proactively publicizing his work on the subway by offering commuters a brief and humorous sales pitch.

While most New Yorkers seem to instinctively ignore those who approach them on the subway – especially those asking for money – Witt’s tactics seem to be working. Earlier this month, Witt posted a YouTube video documenting his efforts, revealing that strangers were surprisingly receptive to his speech.

Witt begins by introducing himself, after which he comically describes both his novels in just a few words. He then notes that he is selling signed autographed copies of both books for $10. To emphasize that this is a good deal, Witt points out that “for the price of two cups of Starbucks coffee, you can enrich your mind.”

Witt acknowledges that readers can easily access his books on their electronic devices, but combats this fact by asserting that they can only get signed copies of the physical books from him personally. To further entice the subway riders, Witt jokes that his books contain “More sex than ‘50 Shades of Grey.’”

Upon finishing his pitch – which lasts just over a minute – two subway riders purchase Witt’s last two books. Another commuter, who says he has no cash on him, inquires about paying with a credit card. Witt assures him that he can buy a signed copy of either of his books via PayPal at

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