Inside Toronto’s antiquarian bookstore The Monkey’s Paw stands the Biblio-Mat. It has an intentionally vintage appearance; as large as a refrigerator and painted pistachio green, with old style lettering that reads: “Every book a surprise. No two alike. Collect all 112 million titles.”
The Biblio-Mat is a vending machine that dispenses books. For a charge of two dollars, the Biblio-Mat will dispense a random title which in most bookstores might have ended up in the discount bin out front. Owner Stephen Fowler claims that the Biblio-Mat “reinjects the mystery into these old printed artifacts” and that even though it isn’t a big money maker, nearly everyone who has used the Biblio-Mat “has been pleasantly surprised and completely amused,” especially kids. Fowler relates the following story about one of his young customers during an NPR interview:
“One kid I can think of in particular — a very intense, physical little boy, not what you would necessarily consider the bookish type — he got a weird, local history book about Hamilton, Ontario,” he says. “And apparently he’s been carrying it around his house, you know, asking his mom, ‘Did you see where I left my Hamilton book?'”
You can watch a video of the Biblio-Mat in action below.