Good Thinking

Biblio-Mat – a lucky dip vending machine for used books

Biblio-Mat – a lucky dip vendi...
Biblio-Mat requires $2 to be inserted in the coin slot for every book you want to acquire
Biblio-Mat requires $2 to be inserted in the coin slot for every book you want to acquire
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Biblio-Mat by Craig Small is a vending machine located in The Monkey's Paw book shop in Toronto, Canada
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Biblio-Mat by Craig Small is a vending machine located in The Monkey's Paw book shop in Toronto, Canada
The front of Biblio-Mat, designed to draw attention to this lucky dip book vending machine
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The front of Biblio-Mat, designed to draw attention to this lucky dip book vending machine
Biblio-Mat requires $2 to be inserted in the coin slot for every book you want to acquire
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Biblio-Mat requires $2 to be inserted in the coin slot for every book you want to acquire
Each random book, bought for $2, is dispensed at the bottom of Biblio-Mat
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Each random book, bought for $2, is dispensed at the bottom of Biblio-Mat
It isn't until the dispensing takes place that the buyer discovers what book they have just bought
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It isn't until the dispensing takes place that the buyer discovers what book they have just bought
A close-up of the coin slot on Biblio-Mat, which sets the process off and running
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A close-up of the coin slot on Biblio-Mat, which sets the process off and running
In order for Biblio-Mat to work it has to be kept stocked up with old books
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In order for Biblio-Mat to work it has to be kept stocked up with old books
This rear-view image of Biblio-Mat reveals how it works, with the books stacked up ready to be dispensed at random
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This rear-view image of Biblio-Mat reveals how it works, with the books stacked up ready to be dispensed at random

While few people would describe themselves as bibliophiles, most people like curling up with a good book. While tablets and dedicated eReaders, such as the Kindle and Nook have proven tremendously popular with readers, there is still a percentage that prefer the look and feel of a printed book and would rather spend some time hunting around a bricks and mortar store than browsing an online shopfront. It is these readers at which the Biblio-Mat – a vending machine for dispensing used books – is targeted.

Biblio-Mat is the brainchild of Craig Small, who built the vending machine for his friend Stephen Fowler, owner of Toronto's The Monkey's Paw second-hand bookshop. Fowler originally conceived of a painted refrigerator box housing one of the store's assistants, who would have had to physically hand a used book to anyone willing to pay the asking price. Small, presumably to the delight of the store assistants, suggested automating the whole process, and built Biblio-Mat to prove it could be done.

Using an old metal locker, Small fashioned Biblio-Mat to dispense a book at random every time someone dropped CAD$2 (US$2) in the coin slot. The books are piled up in the back of the machine, with the only human involvement in the process being the restocking of the machine. Biblio-Mat was designed to match the feel of the book shop itself, with a vintage look in terms of colors and lettering.

It isn't until the dispensing takes place that the buyer discovers what book they have just bought
It isn't until the dispensing takes place that the buyer discovers what book they have just bought

The $2 asking price means Biblio-Mat isn't a money-making addition to the store. Instead, Fowler sees it as an alternative to the bargain bin most second-hand book shops feature. The customers get to enjoy the novelty value of the machine, but as they have no way of actually selecting a particular book, have to contend with potentially ending up with a book they already own, don't want, or actively dislike. Either way, spending $2 of small change on a book that could potentially entertain and enthrall is a low-cost risk to take.

The video embedded below shows Biblio-Mat in action. It looks to be somewhat akin to Swap-O-Matic, a vending machine that allows for the exchanging of second-hand goods. Both ideas are reminders that even though we live in a throwaway society, one person's junk is another person's treasure. And landfill isn't always the only option.

Source: Quill and Quire via Boing Boing

The BIBLIO-MAT

1 comment
Gearhead
Love it! Brilliant! Not every solution has to involve a smart phone...