Short Stories Vending Machine For French Commuters Coming to San Francisco

French publisher Short Édition who brought over 600 short stories to Grenoble commuters in vending machines and now is coming to San Francisco thanks to Francis Ford Coppola.

Le Distributeur d'Histoires Courtes

The Short Édition stories are selected from their library and are available to purchase at various distribution points and dispensed at their “Distributeur d’Histoires Courtes” which translates as “Vending machine for short stories” in Grenoble, France as their starting point but is now across France.

San Francisco Gets Vending Machine for Short Stories

For its first release outside our borders, the Short Stories Distributor has been installed to Francis Coppola-owned Cafe Zoetrope in San Francisco. Passionate about short literature, Francis Ford Coppola launched, in 1997, Zoetrope: All-Story, a quarterly dedicated to short stories and art … and loved this innovative Short Edition project.

Coppola said,

I love the idea of a vending machine that does not distribute chips, beers, or coffee but that gives you art.”

The Short Stories Vending Machine aims to tackle the loss of popularity of short stories in recent years due to the adoption of the smartphone as a source for reading material.

While the printed short story may have become less popular in recent years due to the popularity of digital devices, the novel’s shorter version is about to get a second look in the southern city of Grenoble. For a small fee, the ‘vending machines’ will dispense short stories to commuters, exposing them to authors that they may not be familiar with. The publishing company will offer three types of reading cards with three-time reading options, – one, two or five minute reads.

Co-founded by Quentin Plepé, Short Édition consists primarily of an online community of over 141,000 subscribers and 1,100 authors. Plepé says the team came up with idea chatting and waiting around an office snack machine.

Grenoble was a natural fit for this experiment.  The Grenoble-based publishing house naturally contacted its hometown for the experiment, and the town was immediately enthusiastic. “The city was on board from the beginning,” Plepé told Fast Company. “What they really liked was the fact that the dispensers distribute culture through the city in an original way. “Stories are an important part of our life. We need them to construct who we are as individuals. More and more people don’t take the time anymore to sit and read a book. This is a way to have a little ‘bite’ of a story, just for a couple of minutes.”

The company sees France as the starting point and plans to expand around the globe.

What a great idea. San Francisco is an excellent first step but how about the rest of the country? Perhaps a U.S. publisher could get onboard and offer “reading vending machine” and prompting commuters to read literature instead of their latest Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat posts?


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