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French city introduces short story dispensers to lure people away from their phones


What’s your first move when waiting standing on a train platform or waiting to meet a friend?

You’re probably on Facebook doing some digital stalking, ogling someone’s new shoes on Instagram or taking a cheeky selfie; either way, chances are you’re checking your phone.

In an innovative and creative move, a French city is attempting to fight against our screen addiction by placing ‘short story dispensers’ around the town.

Grenoble, capital of the French Alps, is hoping to help civilians pass the time by providing them with short stories to read.

The experimental move will see story ‘dispensers’ dispersed around the town, which will produce good quality literature to people waiting around, in the hope that they will read them, learn something from them, enjoy a moment with their imagination and most crucially, move away from their screens during quiet moments.

Just like a vending machine which, here in the UK, more commonly supply gummy sweets or soft drinks, the dispensers will allow users to select their preferences.

People will be able to decide what length of literature they have time to read, be it a three minute story, which is provided on a 8 x 60 cm piece of paper, or a five minute story, which comes up twice the size.

The scheme is the result of a collaboration between the founders of publishing company, Short Edition, and the mayor of Grenoble, Eric Piolle.

“The idea came to us in front of a vending machine containing chocolate bars and drinks,” Christophe Sibieude, head of Short Edition, tells Agence-France Presse.

“We said to ourselves that we could do the same thing with good quality popular literature to occupy these little unproductive moments.”

The plan will see eight machines peppered around the city in busy social areas, from the tourist office to the town hall.

Most importantly, though, the machines will be free to use – because you can’t put a price on education. 



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