Then there’s vending machines that sell print books. Actually these ingenious devices have been around for a long time. According to John Geohegen (Huffington Post 5/25/13) the first book dispensing vending machine was built by Richard Carlile in England in 1822. He writes, Carlile was a bookseller who wanted to sell seditious works like Paine’s Age of Reason without being thrown into jail. His answer was a self service machine that allowed customers to buy questionable books without ever coming into contact with Carlile. The customer turned a dial on the device to the publication he wanted, deposited his money, and the material dropped down in front of him.
Since then the technology of book vending machines has been modernized so that now there are Book-O-Mats, Readomatics and Biblio-Mats that can be found in libraries, airports, subway stations, etc. Most of the books available on these ingenious gadgets are mass market bestsellers. You don’t find The Dialogues of Plato or The Consolations of Philosophy. For them you have to trek to the library or the ever-popular Amazon website.
“The French publisher hopes the stories will be used to fill the dead time of a commute, in a society where daily lives are moving quicker and quicker and where time is becoming precious. In the bus, the tram or the metro, everyone can make the most of these moments to read short stories, poems or short comics. And they can be sure to enjoy the ending.”
All this is well and good, especially the fact that the stories are free. But I wonder how popular they will be for individuals who are already reading on their iPad, Kindle, smartphone or even the fast-disappearing printed book. The same holds for individuals who like to enjoy a quiet moment of reflection or conversation with their friend as they are traveling to their destination.