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UK’s first short story vending machines entertain London commuters

Short story vending machine from Short Édition
Short story vending machine is a great way of promoting reading among Londoners / Photo: Olivier Alexandre, Short Édition

While commuting to the busy Canary Wharf financial area in London, one can notice a rather unusual scene – businessmen reading into receipt-like scrolls. They are not alarmingly long grocery bills – but action-packed short stories.

Canary Wharf, London has introduced genius vending machines that, by a touch of a button, print out bite-sized short stories, following in the footsteps of French publishing company Short Édition.

They are free of charge and printed on eco-friendly papyrus in merely a couple of seconds. Small and taking up virtually no space, these brilliant inventions are ideal for short commutes and easy to read even when squashed by someone’s elbow on a busy Monday morning.

The black and yellow “Short Story Stations” enable you to select a one-, three- and five-minute read length – and then generate a randomly selected short story, in a range of different genres: crime, feel-good fiction, sci-fi, romance, but also condensed classics by authors such as Virginia Woolf or Charles Dickens. The little ones are not missing out on the fun – the vending machines also offer children’s stories.

Anthony Horowitz, one of UK’s most famous contemporary thriller writers, wrote a short story exclusively for Short Édition – a mini-thriller titled “Mr. Robinson” that unravels in only 60 seconds:

I’ve always loved the challenge of the short story — creating a whole world in just a few pages. Here’s a whodunnit, complete with suspects and clues, that can be started and finished in just a minute. I hope it will entertain tube travelers who will know, at least, that they won’t have the frustration of having to get off before the end!

The initiative is a great way of promoting reading among Londoners. In fact, research says that 53 million books are left unfinished in the UK every year, with lack of time often given as the reason.

Short story vending machine lets you print the 1-, 3- or 5-minute story in an instant
Short story vending machine lets you print the 1-, 3- or 5-minute story in an instant / Photo: Olivier Alexandre / Short Édition

By providing the commuters with a gripping short story that takes only a couple of minutes to read, the organizers are hoping to encourage Brits to read more.

Short Story Stations have already proved to be a huge success among commuters in France, Hong Kong and the US. In fact, “The Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola liked it so much he invested in the company in 2016, installing a dispenser in his San Francisco restaurant, Cafe Zoetrope.

Via The Guardian.

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