Here’s a Brilliant Idea: Free Vending Machine Stories for Kids

  • Robert Desmarais


Dear Readers,

The New York Times recently published a fascinating article about a cylindrical kiosk that spits out short stories on strips of paper of varying length determined by your preferred reading time (one, three, or five minutes). The Short Story Dispenser was conceived and created by a French start-up publisher called Short Édition whose aim is “to adapt literature to the modern world by combining short literature, the community and technology.” Short Édition has more information on its website for anyone wanting to learn how the dispenser can “bring literature to unexpected places”. I was delighted to learn that the stories are offered free of charge and the publisher has already collected more than 100,000 submissions. The good news is that authors receive royalty payments each time their work is accessed via the dispenser. The machines have an attractive design and they have already been installed in over 150 international locations, including airports, cafes, hospitals, universities, and libraries. In fact, I was thrilled to discover that my local airport installed a dispenser last January to provide passengers with access to short stories written by local writers.

According to the Times article, the dispenser is available for $9,200 (US) plus an additional content fee of $190 per month. The publisher offers a variety of literary genres, so owners of dispensers can easily tailor their content offerings to different audiences. It would therefore be straightforward to offer free stories specifically for young readers. I sincerely hope that the dispenser continues to proliferate in locations where young people gather, such as libraries and schools. Perhaps this article will inspire some of you to advocate for a dispenser in your community. And perhaps others will consider writing receipt-sized stories for children that could be made available by Short Édition. Whatever you do, let’s take a moment to celebrate a new and innovative way of sharing stories with children and readers of all ages.

Happy reading!

Robert Desmarais
Managing Editor

Author Biography

Robert Desmarais

Robert Desmarais is Head of Special Collections at the University of Alberta and Managing Editor of The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature. A graduate of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information Studies, with a Book History and Print Culture designation, he also has university degrees in English literature and publishing. He has been collecting and enjoying children’s books for as long as he can remember.

How to Cite
Desmarais, R. (2018). Here’s a Brilliant Idea: Free Vending Machine Stories for Kids. The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature, 7(4).