Writing is the journey; short-story vending machines

I’m not a big fan of corporations giving us reading material; it just seems a little condescending, like we can’t decide what to read ourselves. But – at the risk of sounding changeable – I loved the idea of the short-story vending machines undertaking trials in Grenoble. Run by the French organisation Short Edition, travellers can choose a 1, 3 or 5 minute story as they move about the city (17% of residents have used them). I love this kind of city project, because it allows anyone to submit a story, rather than providing a platform for established authors. It just seems very democratic, although I wonder if that will remain true if the founders wish is realised when he says, “imagine a distributor in every Starbucks”. Quite.


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Corporate fast-food reading makes me queazy

I love great writing as much as the next girl but I was a little dismissive when I read the US burrito chain, Chipotle, had printed literature on its cups and bags, giving its customers the chance to read something with their lunch. The authors seem like an interesting mix (Malcolm Gladwell, Jonathan Safran Foer, and since Jonathan Franzen) but I hate corporate involvement in my reading habits. It reminds me of when Starbucks became more interested in selling us CDs than a really good cup of coffee (and don’t get me started on their tea…). It all just seems so condescending, like we can’t decide what to read ourselves. Foer states that he offered to do the service because the company didn’t use advertising on its bags, unlike McDonalds, besides, he adds, “a lot of those people don’t have access to libraries”. Could he be any more patronising?  Chipotle, I love your burritos, but please leave my reading decisions to me.


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