Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The strange appeal of the Biblio-Mat
The Monkey's Paw - but if I did, or if there were one near me (there isn't even a bookstore nearby anymore), I'd be at it regularly to put $2 into the machine and take my chances on a randomised antique book, delivered like a gumball, out of the slot at the bottom. Why? It's certainly not because I need something to read - there is a gorgeous stack of great books right here awaiting my attention. Perhaps it's because the machine itself is kind of retro, with a cover like an old Penguin novel. Maybe it's because it makes old fashioned noises like bells, whirs and clinks (and I'm feeling nostalgic for that kind of noise). You can have a look and listen yourself here: http://vimeo.com/53679084. Or maybe it's because, as Stephen Fowler, owner of the Biblio-Mat and The Monkey's Paw puts it, there's a sense that the book that comes out the bottom is choosing you personally. That is, of course, the serendipity that makes it so appealing. It's a lucky dip for readers - a tiny bit of a gamble that won't leave you broke. What book lover could resist that?