French publisher Short Édition has brought free stories to the city of Grenoble. Via vending machines. Spread out across eight locations, Short Édition has set up stations where residents can select a desired story length and the machine will print out a randomly-selected original tale.
The orange-and-black machines have three buttons: 1 minute, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes. The customer selects a desired length and receives a printed story, which looks like a long receipt with small but legible text.
Co-founder Christophe Sibieude reportedly said the machines are meant to fill time that would otherwise be used staring at mobile devices.
“The idea came to us in front of a vending machine containing chocolate bars and drinks,” he said. “We said to ourselves that we could do the same thing with good quality popular literature to occupy these little unproductive moments.”
According to a press release, Grenoble’s effort is also in line with a “commitment” to culture and literary creation. The vending machines, it says, supports the publishing industry and “promotes the development of the practice of writing.”
The stories are sourced from members of the Short Édition community, and it’s filled up enough that it’s unlikely that the user will ever see the same story twice. The Short Édition machines are an interesting combination of analog and digital innovations. It’s obviously mechanical, yet it produces something simple and tangible — a story. The dispenser has the potential to change how we engage with analog culture in the digital age — bringing the two together rather than replacing one another.