11 Aug 2019

That's the story: Timaru's literary vending machine opens this week

1:38 pm on 11 August 2019

A vending machine with more than 80,000 short stories is open from this week in Timaru in South Canterbury.

The Timaru District Council said the short story dispenser was the first of its kind in New Zealand, and it's located at the Timaru Library.

Council spokesperson Stephen Doran said the machine printed off random short stories on request on a biodegradable piece of paper.

He said the stories were stored in cloud form, and could be updated to include stories from local authors.

Mr Doran said the machine was also moveable, and the district council planned to move it around Timaru.

"In a time where everyone is just sort of staring at their phones, it's a little bit of physical reading again. And it's something just different and when you're always sort of choosing in a very limited sort of choices in life, this [machine] can just spit out something completely random for you to enjoy," he said.

The short story dispensing vending machine at Timaru Library.

The short story dispensing vending machine at Timaru Library. Photo: RNZ / Anan Zaki

Mr Doran said the machine cost about $10,000 to import from France, and the council did not plan to buy any more.

Timaru District Libraries manager Adele Hewlett said people could choose a desired reading time: one minute, three minutes or five.

Most of the stories covered adult fiction genres such as crime, romance and suspense, she said.

"The dispenser is a simple amenity which can offer bite-sized literature in unexpected places where people generally wouldn't reach for a book," she said.