Killing time while you wait for your train to arrive can be difficult but the French railway has come up with an idea that seeks to save us all of our boredom with printed short stories for free. Vending machines at train stations now dispense short stories that can take one minute, three minutes or five minutes to read.
The stories were submitted by over 5,000 anonymous authors and vary from literature to lyrical poetry and fairy tales. The idea was conceived by publishing house Short-Edition. A train operator told the Independent that the machines distributed 100,000 stories printed on paper over the past six months, from an entirely random selection.
The idea, which was first trialed in Grenoble train station, will spread to 35 stations by the end of this year. France has Europe’s second biggest rail network with 29,901 kilometers of tracks. However, the railway only accounts for around 10% of all travel in the country. Throughout 2016, several strikes have plagued the railway system.
“Our ambition is to see distributors pop up everywhere to encourage reading – and writing – and promote our artists. Brief stories have a place in our lives,” Short Edition director Christophe Sibieude told Telerama. “We thought it might be fun to have a distributor of stories that’d be just like a vending machine. The paper medium is a breath of fresh air, it’s more unexpected that a smartphone screen.”
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