Commuters picked up a free copy of Touching the Void by Joe Simpson at Oxford railway station as the team behind Oxford’s bid to become World Book Capital 2014 marked World Book night.

Angus Phillips, head of the Oxford Centre for International Publishing Studies at Oxford Brookes University, gave away 35 copies of the book on Monday.

He said: “I gave away the book as commuters were coming off the train.

“Mostly people were really pleased.

“I chose the station because I thought it would be quite fun and you associate it with people reading a book on the train.

“Only one person had read the book before. ”

Youlbury Scout Activity Centre at Boars Hill also received copies of the book from Norah Laurie, a World Book Night volunteer.

Free books were also handed out at the Mini plant in Cowley, and at Carfax, the Story Museum in Pembroke Street and the Bodleian Library. Copies of Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat were handed out at The Story Museum.

Cath Nightingale, from the Story Museum, said: “We were pleased with the response.

“We had people knocking on our door for books.”