How about a short story while you wait for your appointment at city hall, rather than killing time on your cell phone? Vending machines in Grenoble are dispensing literature to feed your brain.

These days, it’s become a default move to reach for our phones whenever we have some time to kill. Sometimes, we use them to scan the news, but all too often we fall down a social-networking rabbit hole – and by the time our wait is finally over, we know all about a colleague’s post-work antics or a friend’s culinary exploits rather than actually feeding our brains.

Just push the button for a free short story

Short Edition wants to change all that. The publishing company – launched in 2011 and supported by the Entrepreneurship Network (a French association that supports innovative ideas) – is based out of Grenoble, France, and has filled the city with vending machines that dispense short stories free of charge. So, rather than reaching for your phone, they invite you to press the machine’s one-, three-, or five-minute button for a story that matches your anticipated reading time. Each story is issued by the vending machine on a receipt-style piece of paper.

There are eight black-and-orange vending machines dotted around the Alpine city, strategically placed in public spaces like Grenoble’s tourism office, the main library, or City Hall. The initiative was launched in partnership with the mayor of Grenoble, Eric Piolle, to promote the development of culture in public spaces and to make it accessible to all residents.

short story dispenser printed story
There are eight black-and-orange vending machines dotted around Grenoble, strategically placed in public spaces like Grenoble’s tourism office, the main library, or City Hall.
display of the short story dispenser in grenoble
pushing the button of the short story dispenser in grenoble
girl and the short story dispenser in grenoble
printedshort story dispenser in grenoble
reading the short story short story dispenser in grenoble

In an interview with Agence-France Presse, Short Edition’s co-founder Christophe Sibieude said that his team came up with the idea while facing a chocolate candy machine. “We said to ourselves that we could do the same thing with good quality popular literature to fill those little unproductive moments,” he explained.

From humor to horror – every genre is covered

Short Edition’s community of writers is vast: Each week, thousands of stories are submitted to the Short Edition website. The Short Edition online community votes on which stories make it into the vending machines and which ones are published in the Short Edition e-book and printed book.

From humor to horror, all fiction genres are covered. At the same time, all stories are also suitable for children, so there’s no chance of nasty surprises. What a better way to pass the time!

short story dispenser in Grenoble printed short story
Each story is issued by the vending machine on a receipt-style piece of paper.

For more information on Short Edition, visit the website or follow them on Facebook!

All images, incl. the header image: VdG