MICHELLE NORRIS, host:
June is National Candy Month, the National Lady Lawyers Month, and bet you didn't know this one - National Bathroom Reading Month. The publisher of a well-known bathroom reader was in Madison Square Park to promote the event at New York's first automatic public toilet. The idea was to give out free quarters for the toilet and free reading material.
NPR's Margot Adler reports.
MARGOT ADLER: Perhaps we shouldn't blow the punch line - there they were in T-shirts promoting Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, and advertising free flushes. There was Steven Style(ph), the publicist, telling me they would give quarters to anyone who wanted to use this shiny glass and stainless steel public toilet.
Mr. STEVEN STYLE (Publicist): This is the first of 20 that will be installed in New York, 19 more to come within the next six months. Unfortunately, last night the toilet broke apparently, but what...
ADLER: And so, that's why I see these three men here with various machines trying to do things.
Mr. STYLE: Exactly.
ADLER: The workmen wouldn't say a word and their large electric snake didn't seem to be achieving much. Laura Fitting(ph) was handing out booklets and rain checks for the quarters.
Ms. LAUREN FITTING (Worker): Would you like the free bathroom reader?
ADLER: People seem weird about taking them, don't they?
Ms. FITTING: I know, I think they're embarrassed to admit that they read in the bathroom, but 66 percent of people have admitted to doing it, so we shouldn't be ashamed. Celebrate National Bathroom Reading month with pride.
ADLER: Do you read in the bathroom?
Mr. NATHAN WINSTON(ph): I do.
ADLER: Nathan Winston was an exception. What do you read when you don't have Uncle John's?
Mr. WINSTON: Just whatever book I'm reading.
ADLER: The reading material they were handing out included an essay on the world's stinkiest cheese. It turns out it's Vieux Boulogne, not available in the U.S. and a little section on songs that superstars regretted. It turns out that many singers of "We Are the World" thought it sounded like a Pepsi commercial.
Steven Style says they sold seven million copies of Uncle John's Bathroom readers, ranging from general interest to...
Mr. STYLE: Plunging into music, into sports, et cetera.
ADLER: So, these are mostly supposed to be short so that, no...
Mr. STYLE: No. Yeah.
ADLER: ...no because...
MR. STYLE: But actually, we have quick, short length stories, and we have medium length and the longer length, depending on how long you're going to be in the john.
ADLER: Unfortunately, these new automatic toilets allow you to stay for only 15 minutes. An alarm goes off after 12. Not the kind of luxurious reading experience you might achieve at home. By the way, June is also Potty Training Awareness month, but we won't go there.
Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.
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