If you find yourself with time to kill at Exeter St Davids train station anytime soon, then we’ve got a nice surprise for you. A full-on ‘literary vending machine’ has just landed on one of its platforms – making it ideal for passengers seeking a last-minute read to keep them company on their journey.
The machine, which works in the same way as the food-and-drink ones we’re all used to, is a collaboration between Penguin Random House, Exeter Unesco City of Literature and Great Western Railway.
The books on offer will be a mix of classics and contemporary titles and will reflect key moments throughout the year such as Black History Month or COP28. Right now, the collection includes George Orwell’s ‘1984’, ‘Taste’ by Stanley Tucci and ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid. They are all on sale at their regular retail price.
The Devon train station was chosen for the key role it plays in the publishing house’s origin story. Sir Allen Lane, Penguin’s founder, was at Exeter St Davids in 1934 when he became disillusioned at the lack of good, reasonably priced books available for his journey. Penguin Books was born and released its first paperbacks a year later.
Zainab Juma, the publisher’s head of brand, said that it is what Lane ‘would have wanted to see as he set off on his journey’.
Anna Cohn Orchard, executive director of Exeter City of Literature, added: ‘This incredible invention, made possible by Penguin’s enthusiastic support and the work of a local vending-machine company, will not only make reading more accessible to everyone who steps foot onto St Davids, but it will shine a light on how Devon has inspired so many great figures in the literary world.’
Profits from the machine will be split between local bookstore Bookbag and Exeter’s Unesco City of Literature programme.
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