Saturday 21 September 2019

Short story vending machines serving up an antidote to commuter boredom

One of the vending machines in Grenoble
Credit: Short Edition website
One of the vending machines in Grenoble Credit: Short Edition website

Sarah-Jane Murphy

Publishers have come up with a novel way of helping passengers to pass the time as they undertake their monotonous daily commute.

Free fiction is being dispensed from machines in the city of Grenoble and readers can choose between eight different short-stories to beat the boredom during journeys.

Publishers 'Short Edition' have installed fiction-printing machines that give readers the option of selecting a 'one-minute', 'three-minute' or 'five-minute' story.

Only two weeks after launching the product, the company have reported that over 10,000 stories have been printed.

“The feedback we got has been overwhelmingly positive, we are thrilled to see it working so well.

“There are only eight dispensers in the city of Grenoble for now but we are planning to introduce more.

"We are getting requests from all over the world – Australia, the US, Canada, Russia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Chile, Taiwan – that we are processing meticulously one by one," co-founder of Short Edition, Quentin Pleplé said.

The French publication house envisage that the short stories will assist in filling 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,” a statement from Short Édition read.

The dispensers are located in various spots around Grenoble city centre, including the town hall, tourist office and the library.

The stories were selected from the more than 60,000 stories on Short Edition's community website

Users are not able to choose what genre of fiction they would like to read.

“Just the length, it’s the beauty of it,” said Pleplé.

Pleplé said he and his team initially came up with the idea a couple of years ago.

“We were actually not thinking about work, just having a break at the snack vending machine.

"We thought it would be cool to have it for short stories,” said the publisher.

“Then, a couple of days later we decided to hack a prototype: the short-story dispenser was born.”

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