A bookstore in Toronto has a vending machine that spits out rare books.
There is a bookstore nestled in the Brockton Village of Toronto, Canada that is quite unusual. For starters, the store is called The Monkey’s Paw, an obvious take on the short horror story written by W. W. Jacobs, and it specializes in “uncommon books and paper artifacts from the age of print."
If you step inside you’ll be assailed by row upon row of old tomes stacked neatly on shelves. The store doesn’t discriminate and will take anything that is old or unusual. It could be a fictional piece written by a long-dead author, or it could be a letter written by a renowned scientist. They take all kinds.
But one thing will immediately strike you as odd. In a store that is nothing but paper, wood, and ink, there’s a strange box sitting in the corner. It’s called the Biblio-Mat, and its job is to dispense rare literary works for the cost of a $3 token.
Invented in 2013 by animator Craig Small specifically for this quirky store, the Biblio-Mat is a book vending machine. When it was created the machine accepted $2 token and dispensed a random book for the price, but inflation gets the best of all of us so the price was raised to a $3 token you can request from the staff.
The Biblio-Mat is a relatively simple device. The exterior is a painted wooden box. The interior is a series of electric motors hooked up to levers and pulleys that draw a book up and then unceremoniously drop it into the dispensing cavity. It tumbles down while a bell rings.
Due to the nature of the device, you’re not likely to find a first edition print of anything particularly valuable, since as the video below shows the book is handled a bit roughly as it falls into the receptacle, but it is a great way to expand one’s library with something you would never expect.
The Monkey’s Paw is at 1267 Bloor St W, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Swing by the next time you’re in town.