December 4, 2018

A school in Buffalo, NY has a new book vending machine for kids


Photo by Lydia Liu licensed under CC BY 2.0

You’ve heard of Scholastic book fairs–now get ready for Scholastic book vending machines.

The grand unveiling of the book vending machine came to the school library of Arthur O. Eve School 61 in Buffalo, New York this past Tuesday. Though the idea didn’t come from Scholastic, the company actively assisted Unseld Robinson, assistant principal at the school, with selecting the right titles and sizes for the machine. The machine has been stocked with titles for students grades pre-K through fourth grade and does not require any “real” money–just a gold token that each student receives once a month. Once chosen, the books are theirs to keep.

“We wanted to make literacy exciting and fun,” said Principal Parette Walker, “because learning and reading should be fun.”

Truth be told, this is actually not a new tactic. People have been trying to make book-buying fun for as long as Scholastic book fairs have been around, and the results speak for themselves.

It’s also not the first-ever vending machine to vend out books. A similar initiative, run by JetBlue, came to Washington D.C. back in 2015. Robinson cited this as direct inspiration to create his own local book vending machine, which is perhaps the point. It’s not new to the United States, but the important part is that it’s new to this area.

What the school lacked in JetBlue money, they made up for in community outreach. In addition to reaching out to Scholastic, Robinson also reached out to the Global Vending Group in Amherst for a customized machine, the Community Action Organization for the $3,000 cost, and the non-profit school supply store Teacher’s Desk for help keeping the machine stocked. The machine is truly a community effort, which hopefully means it won’t be as temporary as the one in D.C.




Alyssa Monera is an intern at Melville House.