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Novel idea: Book lending library the latest in string of weird vending machines

A young woman buys a book from a street vending machine in Paris on Aug. 19, 2005. GETTY IMAGES/Bertrand Guay.

It’s a novel idea: pick up a book for your commute home from a Toronto Public Library branch at Union Station.

While the newly-redesigned station doesn’t include an official branch, a vending machine that loans out books could be in place by the end of the year. A return bin would be right beside it, according to published reports.

“There’s been such a positive response to it, it’s breaking our social media services,” Ana-Maria Critchley, manager of stakeholder relations at the library, told CityNews on Thursday.

Critchley said that while there are few details confirmed – they don’t know the design of the kiosk or where it will be placed – interest in the project has been “amazing.”

Commuters and anyone else passing through the hub could access the vending machines with the swipe of a library card.

“It’s a way of broadening library services,” Critchley said.

Toronto wouldn’t be the first city to offer books instead of a bag of chips: Ottawa, Edmonton, and Los Angeles already have book vending machines, as do some cities in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Union Station wouldn’t even be the first place in Toronto to offer books in such a unique manner. Independent book store Monkey’s Paw opened a Biblio-Mat, where books are just $2. The only catch is, in that case, readers don’t know what they’re getting.

There’s a similar book-vending machine in Barrie.

7 other unique vending machine items

7) Live crabs in China, including sauce and a drink.

Live hairy crabs are displayed in a vending machine at a main subway station in China. REUTERS.
Live hairy crabs are displayed in a vending machine at a main subway station in China. REUTERS

 

6) There are cupcake ATMs in several U.S. cities, including Dallas, Atlanta and New York.

A cupcake ATM in Dallas. Photo via sprinkles.com.
A cupcake ATM in Dallas. Photo via sprinkles.com.

 

5) A vending machine in San Francisco dispenses surfboards and bicycles. The catch? It’s an ad from Tourism British Columbia.

A man receives a bike from a vending machine. Photo via inhabitat.com.
A man receives a bike from a vending machine. Photo via inhabitat.com.

 

4) Gold can be purchased in a vending machine in (where else?) Dubai

 

3) There’s a string of marijuana dispensaries in British Columbia, operated by the BC Pain Society.

Get your $50 half ounce today at #bcpainsociety! 😳💨💨💀🙌 #vancouverstoners #weedvendingmachine

A photo posted by BC Pain Society (@bcpainsociety) on

 

2) Beer, cigarettes, whisky … there’s a seemingly endless list of what’s available in Japanese vending machines. No ID required.

A vending machine in Japan sells liquor. Photo via dreamgolive.wordpress.com.
A vending machine in Japan sells liquor. Photo via dreamgolive.wordpress.com.

 

1) In Singapore, mashed potatoes can be purchased in a vending machine.

Mashed potatoes in a vending machine in Singapore. Photo via foodbeast.com.
Mashed potatoes in a vending machine in Singapore. Photo via foodbeast.com.