April 3, 2019

Short story vending machines are coming to London


Photo by Elliott Brown licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Forget to grab your book on the way out the door? Fear not, commuters, a solution could be coming your way.

This week, short-story vending machines are being installed at Canary Wharf. Alison Flood reports for The Guardian that the machines will dispense free stories of varying lengths: one, three, or five minute reads.

The machines are made by Short Édition, a French company, and while this is their first introduction to the UK, machines are already established across France, Hong Kong, and the U.S. (That’s right, apparently these are already here!)

Short Édition was created in 2011 with the goal of “adapting literature to the modern world.”

Imagine — a mother and son waiting in line at a Ferris wheel in Irvine, CA press the three minute button on the nearby Dispenser and escape into a fictional world for just a few moments…

At the same time, a young student in Hong Kong, tired after a long day in the library, presses the one minute button on her campus Dispenser, hoping for a humorous story to brighten her afternoon…

While a few moments later and one continent over, an elderly couple, standing on the platform waiting for their train to arrive in Paris, presses the five minute button and, heads bent close, they read the story together, swapping a knowing smile as the train approaches.

Since 2011, Short Édition reports that it has 9,000 authors, 230,000 subscribed readers, and has driven 19 million readings.

London’s new machines will offer stories of all genres and a brand new one-minute read from bestselling author Anthony Horowitz. “Because I love mystery and whodunnits, the question of if it would it be possible to write a proper whodunnit with a solution which made you smile in such a short amount of space was irresistible,” Horowitz told The Guardian. “The whole notion amused me.”



Amelia Stymacks is the former director of digital marketing at Melville House.