A new community initiative called Books on the Rail is placing free books on your bus, tram and train.

You may have heard of book-exchange programs such as London’s Books on the Underground, which inspired copywriter Ali Berg and primary-school teacher Michelle Kalus to create Melbourne’s own Books on the Rail.

“If you stumble across one of the books on the train, tram or bus, take it! Read it, enjoy it,” explains Kalus. “And then, when you’re next on a public-transport service, return it and leave it on one of the seats or a bench at the station.”

Over the past six weeks the number of books circulating has jumped dramatically from 200 in Melbourne (which were mainly on City Loop trains and benches around Flinders Street Station) to more than 3000 nationally. They've even been spotted up in Darwin.

You can identify a Books on the Rail book by its sticker on the front cover, which reads: “Take a book, read it and then return it for someone else to enjoy”. The books have been donated by authors such as Liane Moriarty, Benjamin Law, Markus Zusak, Geraldine Brooks and a number of local publishers.

“There’s a special connection between public transport and reading that’s been around for years. It’s a place to fully immerse yourself in a book, with many commuters around you doing the exact same thing,” Berg says.

Order Books on the Rail stickers of your own so you can share your favourite novel with others at booksontherail.com.

This article was updated on October 11, 2016.