Sunday, November 18, 2012

Biblio-Mat at The Monkey's Paw in Toronto

At a bookstore in Toronto, owner Stephen Fowler installed the Biblio-Mat book vending machine. The bookstore, The Monkey's Paw, described “Toronto’s most idiosyncratic second-hand bookshop,” stocked more than just books, but this latest addition is causing quite a stir.

For $2 each, a random book is dispensed. This is how Fowler describes the selection of books: "The books in the machine are two dollars each – that’s not enough to make any profit, but the nature of the second-hand book business is that I end up with a lot of books that are interesting and worth keeping and disseminating, but have no practical retail value. Historically in the used books trade there has always been the dollar cart in front of the store. This is just a spin on that."

The look of the machine is as cool as the idea itself. Painted retro-green, it has a very vintage vibe, from the title at the top to the font used to announce "Every Book a Surprise", "No Two Alike", and "Collect All 112 Million Titles". Set in the corner of the store, the customers love it. Well, for the most part. You have to realize that most of the fun comes in the action itself, and not the "prize" that the book will be. If you lack imagination and a sense of adventure, you need not deposit your coins in the slot. If you feel lucky, however, you may feel a what Fowler calls a psychic connection with the book title you receive.

Makes me want to take a road trip to Toronto!

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