11/24/2015 11:05 am ET

Short Story Vending Machine Solves All Fiction-On-The-Go Problems

One word: fiction. One problem: where do you get it?
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It's a familiar scene: You're waiting for a train, or for a chronically late friend. Bored, you reach for your phone to pull up Twitter -- but you left your phone at home, or the battery's dead. You stare about, panicked, desperate for something stimulating to occupy the next few seemingly endless minutes. Billboards to read? A couple making out to ogle? Anything!

What if there were another way? French startup Short Édition's new short story dispensers, launched in Grenoble, France, by Christophe Sibieude, make getting fun new reading material as easy as using a vending machine. (Oh: but free.)

We've seen book vending machines before, but these short story devices are all about convenience. The pieces are printed out like receipts, onto thin scrolls of paper that are easy to carry around or discard. And if you like that many websites have begun to advertise how long each article takes to read before you decide to click through, you'll appreciate that you can pick a story based on how much time you have available. Stories, selected otherwise randomly, come in lengths of one, three and five minutes.

Unfortunately for those of you reading this in English, these are French short story machines, all eight of them currently located in Grenoble, scattered in the public areas where you might find yourself with a few minutes to kill: city hall, the tourism office, libraries. 

Still, if no short fiction pop-up dispensary has appeared in your own locale as of yet, take this as an inspiration to load up your smartphone or tablet with a few choice stories to indulge in the next time you're at loose ends. There's nothing like a piece of literature to turn a few throw-away minutes into a transformative experience.

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