Maybe you thought the only thing you could get out of a vending machine was stale prewrapped cake, a bag of Frito-Lays and a feeling of regret. Try a book instead.
The New Yorker just featured a story on “the world’s first short-story vending machines” in France, but in Philly we’ve had them for years. Nic Esposito and Philadelphia nonprofit book publisher The Head & The Hand launched the literature vending machines in 2014 at Elixr Coffee in Rittenhouse Square with rotations around the city, and they’re back March 17.
“People are picking up this reactive habit of checking their phones whenever faced with those found moments through out the day — from waiting for a friend in a coffee shop to riding the train,” explains Esposito.
“A book available through something as convenient as a vending machine in a coffee shop is, in my opinion, a nice alternative in which to spend those moments.”
The idea sprung out of a conversation at a family wedding with a cousin in the vending machine business. Since then, Esposito estimates they have sold thousands of minibooks or “chapbooks,” which cost only $2.
“Even though our design and content is unique and beautiful,” Esposito says, “these books can be put in your back pocket, thrown in a drawer, or dare I say, put in the recycling.
“Wherever they end up, when I have someone two years later tell me how much they liked Joey Sweeney’s ‘Bob Marley: The Delaware Years,’ it feels great.”
The launch of H&H’s newest vending machine, and its 2016 Breadbox Chapbook Series, will kick off on St. Patrick’s Day at Fishtown cafe Soup Kitchen ( 2146 E. Susquehanna Ave.) with hot (we assume cabbage) soup and readings from local author Tim Fitts, American Poetry Review editor Elizabeth Scanlon and Science Leadership Academy student Michaela Prell.