Singapore Introduces Book Vending Machines

We have many things to thank Singapore for. Delicious chili crab, beautiful beaches, interactive toilets and now, thanks to the ingenious idea of one independent local bookstore, book vending machines. Today, BooksActually unveiled a novel literary attraction for the city of Singapore: vending machines filled with oodles of books.


BooksActually is a local shop specializing in fiction and literature, but is also home to the largest inventory of Singapore Literature, including essays, journals, antiques, niche genres and even some out-of-print tites. 

Currently, the bookstore offers two operating vending machines. One is located at the National Museum of Singapore and the other at the Singapore Visiting Centre, both of which are frequented downtown spots. A third machine, which BooksActually hopes to get up and vending as soon as possible, will be installed at Goodman’s Art Centre, a high traffic spot not far from the other two locations.



Each machine carries roughly 150 books ready for your consumption. From A1 to E5, these goodies are far from the pristine wrapped and sugar coated candies you’d get at any other vending machine, but just as crave-worthy and even more reason to start drooling and gleeking. Among the choices you can find a variety of reads all with a local flavor: each one is written by a Singaporean author and published by a local distributor.

For BooksActually owner, Kenny Leck, sharing the local culture is the real prize of the project. Leck hopes the machines will bolster community around the local lit and incentivize reading  – and for a good price and such easy access, why wouldn’t you pick a letter-number combo at random and have an amazing read plopped into your hands?

Singapore is only the latest city to hop on this trend of rethinking how we distribute books. In Japan, the U.S. and numerous European countries, book vending machines and even novel poem dispensers are already a blooming business. For Leck, the inspiration came from one instance in particular, and one that traces back long before the trend took global form. In London 1937, Penguin Books released the ‘Penguincubator’, a small curated book dispensary that popped out paperbacks for about the same price as a pack of cigarettes.


Image courtesy of Mental Floss


The ‘Penguincubator’ was the first in a long linage of book dispensers and the forger of a trend still rippling through the literary world. From 1930’s London to present day Singapore, we’re loving the burgeoning tradition and can’t wait to see where it will bud up next!


Images courtesy of Mashable.