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A free short story dispenser is coming to NYC

You can choose stories by reading time or genre—and they're all free!

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

NYC has its share of vending machines, from ones that dispense PPE to others that dole out designer handbags. Now, the city can add a Short Story Dispenser to the list.

Choosing from three categories of short stories, visitors to the Center For Fiction in Brooklyn can "push" a touchless button and the machine will dispense a scroll with a randomly chosen story for free.

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The stories that come out are curated by The Center for Fiction staff, drawing from its publishing company/creator Short Édition’s global database of literature and work created by The Center’s community of affiliated authors, emerging writer fellows, award winners and nominees, teachers, and students.

One of the three buttons will always be dedicated to children’s stories, while the others will change themes throughout the year so that readers always get a fresh and diverse collection of stories, from classic folktales to contemporary voices.

According to Short Édition, the idea is to offer a "tactile moment with a story on an eco-friendly scroll in 1min, 3min, or 5min reading times."

"Reading on paper is more alive and encourages dreaming & sharing," it says. "Reading short stories is a contribution to cultural literacy. Because advancing knowledge & culture brings joy to the community. Short Édition offers a fresh, intellectual, un-connected moment for all reading levels and ages, to progress society."

The dispenser has traveled across the world since it came out in 2016 and even on the Consumer Electronic Show Tech for a Better World award in 2018. There are more than 300 of them around the world right now, which have dispensed more than 5.6 million stories.

The Center for Fiction in Brooklyn at 15 Lafayette Avenue is bringing in the dispenser for use beginning Saturday, October 2.

Short Story Dispenser
Photograph: O. Alexandre

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