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GRAB A BOOK … FROM A VENDING MACHINE

GRAB A BOOK … FROM A VENDING MACHINE

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SO THE AFTERNOON is dragging slowly. You need a treat, some refreshment, something to inject a bit of colour in your day. Trouble is there’s no stores nearby.  Ah look, perfect, there’s a vending machine to come to your aid. Might just saunter over and see what’s on offer …

Singapore’s independent bookstore BooksActually has installed three  book vending machines in three locations across the city – at the National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Visitor Centre and and at a nearby Arts Centre – to tempt the appetites of any passing bibliophiles.

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Each machine stores around 120 to 150 books and was inspired by an idea dreamt up by Penguin Books’ founder Allen Lane in the 1930s, the Penguincubator.

The idea didn’t catch on — and only one version of the contraption was reportedly installed at Charing Cross Station in London.

In 1947 in the United States, along  came the Book-O-Mat.

Meanwhile, in more recent times, book dispensing machines are relatively common in Japan and China.

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In the West, the idea never really caught on – at London’s Heathrow Airport a machine called “A Novel Idea” appeared for a while but the company went out of business in 2010.

No word yet on how the Singapore version is doing.

The plan is to bring “Singapore Literature out of our bookstore and closer to the public,” according to Renee Ting, manager at BooksActually.

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KRISTINA ALVAREZ

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