Short story vending machines rolled out in London's Canary Wharf

One of the U.K.'s best known thriller writers wrote a short story for it.

April 4, 2019, 8:25 AM

LONDON -- Commuters in one of London's most important financial centers will now be treated to a dose of literature on their way to work, as three Short Story Dispensers were installed on Thursday, the first of their kind in the U.K.

In their first day, the Short Story Dispensers are already proving a hit with commuters at Canary Wharf, one of London's busiest Tube stations in the heart of the city's financial district.

The stories, which have an estimated reading time of one to five minutes, are free for the public and printed on eco-friendly papyrus paper, according to the organizers.

The scheme was launched after research commissioned by Canary Wharf found that 36% of British people have given up a book in the past year because they were too busy, and 30% of people said it had been over six months since they last finished a book.

The Canary Wharf Group partnered with the French company Short Édition to install the Short Story Dispensers, which they had launched in other locations in 2015. Though these are the first Short Story Dispensers in the U.K., the literary vending machines are available in a number of the world's biggest cities, such as Paris, Hong Kong and San Francisco.

PHOTO: The Short Story Stations are the first of their kind in the U.K.
The Short Story Stations are the first of their kind in the U.K.
Courtesy Sean Pollock

To promote the scheme, Canary Wharf had one of the U.K.'s best-known thriller writers, Anthony Horowitz, pen a story with an estimated reading time of one minute about a murder that takes place on the Tube, entitled "Mr. Robinson."

Only three Short Story Dispensers have been installed so far on the Canary Wharf Estate, but the bite-sized chunks of literature will provide "the perfect digital antidote" to people's increasingly busy work lives, according to Lucie Moore, the head of arts and events at the Canary Wharf Group.

"We're all guilty of saying we're too busy, but our research found that a staggering 70% of us would rather get lost in a good book than get lost down the rabbit hole of social media," Moore said in a statement. "Our Short Story Stations provide the perfect digital antidote -- a return to analogue scrolling. We hope Anthony's brilliant new work helps people to fall back in love with short stories."

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