Innovative Vending Machine Offers Short Stories

What do you tend to think of when you hear the word ‘vending machine?’ Snickers, Diet Coke, Cheetos? How about short-stories? Perhaps not yet; but, as technology advances with every new year, so does the vending machine – apparently. The city of Grenoble in southeastern France has installed one of the most innovative vending machines we have ever heard of, one that prints out short-stories: for free! 

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The machine holds 600 short stories chosen by the thousands of subscribers and authors to the French publisher Short Édition. The company has set up eight machines throughout the city, with options for 1, 3, or 5 minute short stories. According to one of Short Édition’s co-founders Quentin Plebé, the city loved this innovative idea because “the dispensers distribute culture though the city in an original way.” Grenoble’s mayor, Eric Piolle, is known for his novel approach to city life. He banned advertisements in the city’s streets back in 2014, replacing them with trees and community space. Piolle highlights that the addition of short story vending machines will contribute to a sense of community in Grenoble. 

A view of downtown Grenoble

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Creators of this ingenious machine have stated that the idea came in response to human’s contemporary attachment to smartphones, apps, etc… as well as the importance of keeping literature accessible and relevant. As stated in The New Yorker by another one of Short Édition’s co-founders, Christophe Sibieude, “Smartphones have blurred the limits between our professional life and our distractions…The paper format provides a break from omnipresent screens.” Both co-founders have expressed how essential they find stories in light of increasingly attainable technology. “We need them [stories] to construct who we are as individuals,” says Plebe. 

To Sibieude and Plebé’s surprise, the prototype for the machine back in 2013 was received with incredible enthusiasm, and the up-and-running machines have been popular for citizens and tourists. While the short-story vending machines can only be found in Grenoble at the moment, the apparent success and popularity of the literary distributor is promising. Do you want to see a short-story vending machine in your neighborhood? 

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