So I spotted this children’s book vending machine in my local health center today here in Ljubljana. When was the last time you’ve seen a children’s book vending machine?
I’ve seen plenty of raw milk vending machines around Slovenia. Cut flowers, extra virgin olive oil. But never books for kids.
That’s not to say the idea’s a new one, or even a novel one.
In a piece on the Huffington Post three years ago, A Brief History of Book Vending Machines, author John Geoghegan notes that the first commercial book-dispensing machine dates back to at least 1822, built by a Richard Carlile who was looking for a way to sell seditious books semi-anonymously.
More models followed, including the Book-O-Mat, which in this 1947 ad in Popular Science boasts of having dispensed more than 160 million paperbacks at 25 cents a pop.
They’re not commonly sighted, but seem to pop up most frequently in European airports and city centers, at least according to a cursory web search. But there’s also recent additions in Singapore and a project in central Detroit which provided free books to kids looking for some summer reading. Here’s one enthusiast who’s compiled several dozen images on a Pinterest board.
I hope this one sees more action than the payphone next to it. Books priced at €5 and €6 a piece; €5 and €10 notes accepted.
A more full uncropped view is below.
Today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 1,004th straight, was snapped in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 3 October 2016.