Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Library Look: Book Vending Machines

Behold! The Penguincubator.

How hilarious is that name?? Saying it out loud makes me smile.

Did you know that the first machine for dispensing books was built in 1822? Richard Carlile of England was a reader and bookseller ahead of his time!

His motivation for building the machine was to sell copies of  subversive publications like Thomas Payne's Age of Reason. Selling such items openly would most like get you tossed in jail during those days.

The machine pictured here came next, making the scene in 1937. The founder of Penguin Books, Allen Lane, conceived of the idea to operate in much the same way cigarette machines worked.

Going through several iterations over the decades, there are still book vending machines around today. They have the most popularity in larger European and Asian cities, but there are a few in the US.

The Fullerton Public Library, however, is taking it even further: the books are free. According to the Orange County Register:

The library is using a $35,000 federal grant to install the machine, which will include a drop box for returns and a selection of about 500 books for checking out.

"It's like a Redbox for books," said Maureen Gebelein, Fullerton's library director.
The vending machine, at no cost to the user, went into operation this week and offers hard-cover and paperback books in a variety of genres.

Most with an active Fullerton Public Library card will be able to use the vending machine; if you owe $5 or more on your library card, you will not be able to check out books from the machine.
The books in the machine this week are all best sellers. The plan is to monitor what books in the machine are most popular and to stock those types.

My favorite book vending machine, however, is the home-made Monkey's Paw Biblio-Mat. You put in $2 and get a randomly selected second hand book. Heaven!!


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