The French have developed a new twist on bookselling: Book Vending Machines. They are installed in busy metro stations and on some street corners.
"We have customers who know exactly what they want and come at all hours to get it," said Xavier Chambon, president of Maxi-Livres, a low-cost publisher and book store chain that debuted the vending machines in June. "It’s as if our stores were open 24 hours a day."
Stocked with 25 of Maxi-Livres best-selling titles, the machines cover the gamut of literary genres and tastes. Classics like "The Odyssey" by Homer and Carroll’s "Alice in Wonderland" share the limited shelf space with such practical must-haves as "100 Delicious Couscous" and "Verb Conjugations."
"Our biggest vending machine sellers are ‘The Wok Cookbook’ and a French-English dictionary," said Chambon, who added that poet Charles Baudelaire’s "Les Fleurs du Mal" — "The Flowers of Evil" — also is "very popular."
Regardless of whether they fall into the category of high culture or low, all books cost a modest $2.45.
(Thanks to Bill Rabkin for the tip)