Eight new vending machines have popped up in the public spaces of Grenoble, France, but the city hasn’t suddenly developed a taste for Lay’s potato chips and Snickers bars—these machines dispense short stories.
The concept is simple: when someone has some time to kill, instead of mindlessly flipping through Instagram or retweeting funny bits on Twitter, they can head to one of these free vending machines, thoughtfully located in popular public areas near the city's town hall, the tourism office, and libraries. Decide how much time you can spend reading (one, three, or five minutes), hit a button, and a receipt-like story prints out at just the right length to help you fill your time with literature instead of Facebook likes. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Facebook likes, of course!)
The story-telling machines are a collaboration between a French publishing start-up, called Short Édition, and Grenoble's forward-thinking mayor, Éric Piolle, who made headlines in 2014 when he banned advertisements on the city streets.
“The idea came to us in front of a vending machine containing chocolate bars and drinks, "Sibieude told news agency Agence France-Presse. “We said to ourselves that we could do the same thing with good quality popular literature to occupy these little unproductive moments.”
Grenoble isn’t the only city hoping to deliver books to their literature-loving citizens. According to the CBC, a similar project is underway in Toronto, where the Toronto Public Library is planning to set up a book-lending machine at the city's busiest commuter train station. In Indiana, artists have have created beautiful free mini-libraries that are filling Indianapolis with great books and great works of art.