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Used Book Vending Machine
November 16, 2012 3:33 PM   Subscribe

A Random Used-Book Vending Machine
posted by nadawi (26 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would probably spend all the cash in my pocket. End up with 15 copies of Future Shock and a copy of Chicken Soup for The Soul.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:45 PM on November 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


One of these in an airport would be fantastic.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:48 PM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Automatic dealer for the word addicts.
After stepping over a frothing ad hominem, I expect a winning roll of luck.
posted by Mblue at 3:50 PM on November 16, 2012


My luck all I would get is the Book of Mormon.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:00 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


All I know is you really can't own too many copies of Fifty Shades of Grey.
posted by item at 4:06 PM on November 16, 2012


With my luck I'd get All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.
posted by found missing at 4:06 PM on November 16, 2012


...and that really is all I know. In the world.
posted by item at 4:07 PM on November 16, 2012


Really cool concept.

Does anyone else think the machine looks sort of like a pack of cigarettes?
posted by PipRuss at 4:18 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I lived at a co-op once that did something not dissimilar. We bought an old single brand soft drink machine and stocked it with with an array of mystery beers. You pays your money and you takes your chances...
posted by jim in austin at 4:19 PM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


This idea could be the setup for a great Twilight Zone episode.
posted by davebush at 4:44 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Somehow, I knew this would be in Toronto. And of course it's in the The Monkey's Paw, already a great little curio itself. (Where else could I have discovered Maledicta, the International Journal of Verbal Aggression?)
posted by Mike Smith at 4:50 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I bet it's not really random.
posted by ckape at 4:50 PM on November 16, 2012


I bet someone could make a killing by making an iOS app where you pay 99 cents and get a random app.
posted by oulipian at 4:52 PM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does anyone else think the machine looks sort of like a pack of cigarettes?

I thought so too. I quite like the way it looks.

In the longer Quill and Quire article (linked at the bottom of the Tucson article), the owner of the bookshop says that most people have responded to it positively and that they seem to feel that the specific book they get is a sign: "[T]his is something I’ve observed in the used-book trade: people are always looking for meaning. They’ll get a book and feel as though it was psychically selected for them."

I think it would be cool if public libraries had a random book vending machine like this. These days I don't tend to browse at the library much; I keep a list of books I want to read, check the library website to see if it's in or if I need to put a hold on it, and then basically go pick up what I've already selected online. This would put more serendipity back into my library use.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:57 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't care that this is twee as shit because I would spend ALL MY TWO DOLLARSES ON IT.

There is a machine in some bookstore in Inman Square, Cambridge, that lets you put whatever you have into one of those plastic eggs and then you can put money in to get someone else's. Sadly it was broken or something when I stopped in so I can't really testify.
posted by threeants at 4:57 PM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


This machine is but a few blocks from me. Here's some video.
posted by dobbs at 6:10 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also I was genuinely shocked to see a bookstore owner say this pretty true thing, in the linked interview:

This really isn’t a store for readers. The traditional purpose of a bookstore is as a place to buy a piece of printed culture. We sell printed artifacts that contain text – not that you can’t read these books – but people don’t come here to buy books to read, they come here to buy books to own.

(!)
posted by threeants at 7:28 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I lived at a co-op once that did something not dissimilar. We bought an old single brand soft drink machine and stocked it with with an array of mystery beers. You pays your money and you takes your chances...

You see, this is why I marvel that co-ops haven't defeated corporate capitalism entirely.

I wonder if I could do this in my restaurant, people would LOVE it.
posted by chapps at 8:12 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


We just have a book-case full of random books for free where I live.
I need to go put more books in it.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:04 AM on November 17, 2012


Wow, threeants. That's… depressing. Do they sell them by the foot?
posted by hattifattener at 5:45 AM on November 17, 2012


Well, it is my understanding that Monkey's Paw is in large part a rare bookstore. I thought rare books weren't generally read.
posted by Gin and Comics at 7:15 AM on November 17, 2012


Rare and odd books. The second part's important. Just because something was once printed doesn't mean it's still worth reading, and should exist forever as reading material. Books can just be loved as artifacts too.

I think Fowler was probably exaggerating a bit, to make a point -- or he's underestimating how much of his stock does get read. I'm sure, for instance, that someone is more than willing to read those old issues of General Idea's limited-run art mag. But a lot of his stock is also stuff that doesn't necessarily bear reading, as such. A lot of it probably only has two options at this point: quirky/fascinating artifact, or pulp. He wants to make money gambling on the first, and so far people want to help him. I'm a passionate reader and I don't find anything depressing about that at all.
posted by Mike Smith at 10:00 AM on November 17, 2012


As to the first sentence, I was spoiled by Bookman’s. Actually, as a young man in Tucson in the 80’s there were several good sized used book stores that were open until midnight. I thought it was normal that you could go browse piles of books at any time, and thought it was that way everywhere. I was sure when I moved to Los Angeles the options would just be multiplied.
posted by bongo_x at 12:12 PM on November 17, 2012


Now I am always going to be sad that someone got the Lawrence Welk biography before I could get there. I'd read the heck out of that book, and ordering it from a library or choosing to buy it on Amazon for 8 cents is not as wunnerful as getting it randomly from a machine for $2.
posted by peagood at 12:48 PM on November 17, 2012


Not sure if he still does it or if it was a one off thing but Monkey's Paw once sent out an email with a complete list of titles in inventory and then had a contest fro who could create the best story using the most (only?) book titles. The guy obviously has a knack for marketing.
posted by dobbs at 6:51 AM on November 18, 2012


The Bookstore Strikes Back
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:49 PM on November 30, 2012


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