Many have lamented the lost art of reading in our social-media-driven, content-hungry world, but few have actually tried to do anything about it.

But whether or not you think people aren't reading long-form material as much as they used to, you can probably still get excited about free reading material. In Grenoble, France, a city known as the capital of the French Alps, a publishing start-up called Short Édition has installed eight free story-dispensing vending machines in some of its most popular public spaces.


The strange, screen-less contraptions are the brainchild of Christophe Sibieude (the co-founder and head of Short Édition) and Grenoble's mayor, Éric Piolle. The pair hope that commuters and bystanders will make use of these stories to expand and enrich their minds while waiting around, rather than tapping their way aimlessly through Facebook or Twitter. Stories are dispensed according to how much time you've got to spend reading (one-, three-, and five-minute options are available), and the stories are printed out on long receipt-like paper.

“The idea came to us in front of a vending machine containing chocolate bars and drinks," Sibieude told AFP. "We said to ourselves that we could do the same thing with good quality popular literature to occupy these little unproductive moments.”

[h/t Konbini]

This post originally appeared on our UK site.