French city installing free short story dispensers

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Photo from Short Édition press release. 

At any bus stop or waiting room, it's easy to spot the courageous man or woman struggling to resist their phone. Their fists are clenched, faces slightly flushed with the effort of entertaining one-self for what could be more than five minutes of idleness. But the French city of Grenoble is now offering an alternative - and free! - distraction to their phone.

Eight short story dispensers are being installed around the city, including at town hall, in community centres and in libraries, according to  Konbini, a digital media company. Anyone can print a short story on a paper ticket and keep it around for free.

The project is a collaboration by Grenoble mayor Eric Piolle and the publishing company Short Édition. The idea was inspired by regular candy vending machines, explained Short Édition co-founder Christophe Sibieude to Agence France-Presse

"We said to ourselves that we could do the same thing with good quality popular literature to occupy these little unproductive moments," said Sibieude.

A similar project is underway in Toronto, but instead of short stories, the Toronto Public Library is planning a book lending machine at Union Station, the city's busiest commuter station.

bookvendingmachine.jpgA book vending machine at the Bethlehem Area Public Library in Pennsylvania. (Lisa Massey/AP Photo/Express-Times).
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