Stories from a Vending Machine

 

There are many crazy vending machines that can be found around the world. Recently, we wrote about the world’s largest vending machine hosted by Alibaba and Ford in China – it dispenses Ford cars! And of course there are the more common vending machines that provide beverages, foods, supplies, electronics, and many more choices. But, here is one that is very unusual – a vending machine that dispenses short stories. Yes, short stories are available from vending machines that offers a selection of timed literature in increments of one, three, or five minute stories to be read and shared.

The story began in 2016 in Grenoble, France, with a company called Short Edition, a French publisher of short-form literature; to date, they have installed more than 150 vending machines around the world. And, now, the vending machines are available in more than 30 locations around the U.S. at restaurants, schools, universities, libraries, transportation hubs, and government offices.

The vending machines dole out literature and expose more people to the creative and stress-reducing power of the written word. Push a button and a story unfurls on a long strip of paper (kind of like a register receipt). More than 100,000 original submissions are stored on a computer catalog, and genres include children’s stories, romance, holidays, and more. Short Edition procures the stories by holding writing contests, often under specific themes such as “new beginnings.”

If you want one for your school, the dispensers cost $9,200 plus $190 per month for content and software. Most stories are shared and read by multiple people.  And the best part – the stories are free of charge to print and read!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students. Have them list all the different types of vending machines that they have encountered.
  2. Show video: https://youtu.be/1Rq0eDc52g0
  3. Short Edition Web site (in English and French): https://short-edition.com/en/
  4. Note that stories are available online from the Web site also. Select one in class to have students read and comment on.
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team come up with a promotional tactic that could be used to promote the vending machine and gain readers.

Source: Holson, L. (16 April 2018). The vending machine that spits out short stories. New York Times.

 

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