This university has become the first in the United Kingdom to install vending machines that are designed to dispense free short stories for students to read on campus—and any writer will soon be able to submit their own prose.

The machines on the campus of the University of Lincoln print out tiny works of literature that are dispensed after someone chooses how long they want to be reading— one, three, or five minutes—all at the touch of a button.

Students will be able to read on a whim anything from crime to contemporary fiction, including authors like Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens.

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The machines also contain an exclusive story written by British author Anthony Horowitz—a whodunnit called “Mrs. Robinson” that was designed to be read in less than a minute.

The stories are delivered randomly from a database of 100,000 titles on a receipt-sized scroll of eco-friendly paper using heat transfer instead of ink.


Ian Snowley, Dean of Student Learning Development and University Librarian said: “Not only will the new machines offer the opportunity to access stories at seemingly unexpected spots around campus to encourage people to engage more with reading, but we also hope that it will encourage students, staff, and people across the city to become published authors by submitting their own work.”

The machines are made by French publishing company Short Édition and were previously installed at London’s Canary Wharf following success in France and Hong Kong.

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Later in the year, students and the public will be able to submit their own stories for possible inclusion in Short Édition’s repertoire of over 9,000 authors.

Professor Mary Stuart, the University’s Vice Chancellor, said: “I’m delighted that Lincoln is the first UK university to use this innovative technology to support the development of reading and writing in our university and city communities.”


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