Toronto, Canada – Used book store owner Stephen Fowler was looking for a way to get rid of his “old and unusual” books that no one seemed to want.
After a conversation with his wife, he came up with an idea: a vending machine.
Fowler told NPR, “Originally, I thought maybe we would just have a refrigerator box and paint it to look like a vending machine, and put a skinny assistant of mine inside and have him drop books out when people put a coin in.”
After meeting with his friend, Craig Small, who runs an animation studio in Toronto, Fowler was persuaded to build a working vending machine.
Fowler and Small built the machine, and it has been up and running for the past few weeks. The “Biblio-Mat” is about the size of a refrigerator and painted pistachio green with chrome accents.
The front of the machine reads, “Every book a surprise. No two alike. Collect all 112 million titles.”
Though the “Biblio-Mat” doesn’t generate a lot of revenue (each book costs only $2), Fowler said it is a great way to entertain customers, especially children.
“One kid I can think of in particular — a very intense, physical little boy, not what you would necessarily consider the bookish type — he got a weird, local history book about Hamilton, Ontario,” Fowler said. “And apparently he’s been carrying it around his house, you know, asking his mom, ‘Did you see where I left my Hamilton book?’”
He also said people often feel their book was “psychically” selected for them.
“Yesterday a young woman got a book out of the machine — 12 Hardest Shots in Golf, or something like that — and she was not very impressed,” Fowler said. “But then she said, ‘I know exactly who I’m giving this to for Christmas.”
Would you take a chance on the “Biblio-Mat” for $2?