11/15/2012 06:41 pm ET Updated Nov 16, 2012

Vending Machine Dispenses Random Books

The Monkey's Paw, an offbeat bookstore in Toronto, has invested in a novel concept (literally) -- a vending machine for books. The machine, which has what owner Stephen Fowler describes as an "intentionally vintage" look, dispenses a random book when buyers shell out $2.00.

"I pictured it as a painted refrigerator box with one of my assistants inside; people would put in a coin and he would drop a book out," Fowler said in an interview with Quill & Quire.

The eventual realization of his idea doesn't involve a disgruntled assistant, but an actual mechanical vending machine. For $2, the machine spits out a random used book. It's an inventive spin on the dollar cart that often resides in the front of used book stores, filled with quirky finds with little retail value.

Fowler says customers have been pleased with their purchases, often viewing the books as serendipitous selections. He says, "this is something I’ve observed in the used-book trade: people are always looking for meaning. They’ll get a book and feel as though it was psychically selected for them."

This isn't the first instance of a literary vending machine. We've seen a number of libraries capitalizing on this concept, but this is the first time we've witnessed this quirkier and more romantic version, which takes the power of choice away from customers, and hands it over to the machine.

What do you think? Would you take a chance? Let us know in the comments!



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