The latest US import from France: Short story vending machines

New material.
New material.
Image: Reuters/Brian Snyder
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A new French cultural phenomenon is spreading to the US. It’s not creamy cheese or baby-feeding crazes, but very short short stories, printed out on scrolls of paper and dispensed for free from vending machines.

There are more than 100 such machines, made by publishing community Short Edition, all over France. They’ve become so popular that Americans have demanded their own receipt-like reading material. The company announced on March 22 that more machines will be installed at four public libraries in the US.

The print-outs contain original stories and poetry submitted by Short Edition’s writers, dispensed as one-, three-, or five-minute reads. The first machine was installed in Grenoble in 2015. Then American director Francis Ford Coppola caught wind of the machine and ordered one personally for his Cafe Zoetrope in San Francisco. It was installed in May 2016 and was the first Short Edition dispenser in the US.

Twenty more machines have been installed in North America, and as the result of a partnership with the US’ Public Library Association, four more are now due in Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Kansas.