Canadian Vending

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New reading material

November 28, 2012
By Stefanie Wallace


Nov. 28, 2012 – A consignment bookstore in Toronto has created a vending machine that dispenses surprise books. How would your customers (and their customers) react to a similar concept?

Nov. 28, 2012 – Toronto is home to many things. The bustling city is alive with culture, wonderful restaurants, innovation and lots of sights to see. With big box stores, shopping malls and trendy boutiques on nearly every corner, the shopping options are endless, and a second-hand bookstore could easily blend in with its surroundings.

But The Monkey's Paw, located on Dundas St. West, has something that seriously sets itself apart from the rest. Self-dubbed Toronto's most idiosyncratic secondhand book shop, the store specializes in uncommon and out-of-print books. But for those looking for something completely out of the box, the store has developed a vending machine that delivers a random book when a toonie is inserted.

The machine was built by Craig Small, a Toronto animator, and designed specifically for the store. Stephen Fowler, the store's owner, told the Toronto Star in a recent article that the store goes to great lengths to find completely unusual reading material, and the machine is no exception. With no window to select your item, each item dispensed is completely random.


The concept has taken off: blogs around the world have picked up on the Biblio-Mat, and a video that Small created (you can view it on our homepage) has received thousands of views.

What's interesting to me is the reaction from customers. How would your customers (and their customers) react if the windows to your machines were covered, and a surprise snack or beverage was dispensed every time money was inserted? What if the customer wanted chips, and a chocolate bar was dispensed instead? Does the surprise negate the disappointment of not getting what you hoped you would get? Would you lose customers? Will this novelty wear off, or is there something to be said about offering the element of surprise? Let us know what you think, in the comments below, or on Twitter @CanadianVending.

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