Last week, short story vending machines started popping up around Grenoble, France. At eight locations, anybody can press a button and receive a completely original story for their reading pleasure. Created by French publisher Short Édition, the machines are part of Grenoble’s “commitment” to culture and literary creation, and “promote the development of the practice of writing.”
Quentin Pleplé is the co-founder and chief technology officer of Short Édition and spoke with Inverse over email to divulge some more information about the project.
How many stories are input in the machines?
600 today and we are working to put even more.
How are they generated?
Through our community at short-edition.com, 11,000 authors contribute stories for our 140,000 subscribers.
What’s the likelihood that a story is repeated?
Each story is randomly picked. So you have one chance over 600 to get the same story again.
What are the plans for expansion?
We are now manufacturing more dispensers to answer to market requests. Stories are being translated into multiple languages, including English.
What’s the feedback been like so far?
The feedback we got have been overwhelmingly positive so far :)
Are there any particularly notable authors?
Most authors are like you and me, we are encouraging everyone to write.
Do you anticipate allowing people to submit their own stories for the machines?
Of course, they can submit their stories on short-edition.com and the best ones will be published in the dispensers.
What’s your favorite available poem?
My favorite poem is “Les verrues plantaires persistantes de Bernadette Soupirail” by Mégadingue. I love it!
How does the technology behind the machine work?
We put together a team of experts (electronics, designer…) to design and build it. It has been a long process and we are so happy to now ship the dispensers :)
Who came up with the machine? We’d love to know all the nitty gritty tech specs!
Haha, I’m the lead engineer on the project and the nitty gritty tech specs are our secret sauce :) I can only tell you there are three buttons at the top and a printer inside that pushes paper out of the dispenser. What happens between the two is left to your imagination…