In a world of print-on-demand and digital download, this initiative seems to be a step back into the analog world: a machine which will dispense cigarette-pack sized books. Apparently there’s just one Word-O-Mat machine in existence. It originated in Malmö, is now in Dundee at the Literary Festival (21-25 October), and will end up in Glasgow, where it will dispense mini books. As the company’s website says
“The Word-o-Mat zine editions will be dispensed from a beautiful vintage Wurlitzer cigarette vending machine based in Glasgow, Scotland. The machine is currently in Malmö, Sweden and will be taking a literary tour through Europe after the summer to its new home in Glasgow.
Wurlitzer is a legendary brand famed for making electric pianos, jukeboxes and electric organs as well as long-lasting vending machines.
Word-o-Mat editions will be published quarterly. Each edition is a small box the size of a cigarette packet, which contains several tiny books (zines) featuring the work of different authors from around the world. Sometimes this will be one short story and sometimes a collection of pieces like shorter poems or very short stories.”
Just how commercially viable this will prove to be remains to be seen. On their blog the writer reports making 2,000 mini books in her Dunbar living room. This hardly seems a production technique which can lead to any economies of scale, though details are sparse.