Independent Bookstore BooksActually Installs Book Vending Machines in Singapore

Posted on June 3, 2016

Independent Singapore bookstore BooksActually is determined to get more books in front of busy consumers. The bookstore, which focuses on fiction and literature, will install three book vending machines around the city of Singapore, two of which went live today. The bookstore joked on Instagram, "The Machines have Risen!!"

The vending machines have been installed at the National Museum of Singapore and at the Singapore Visitor Centre. Later in June, a third machine will be installed at the Goodman Arts Center, which is the headquarters for the National Arts Council. The vending machines cost $9,000 apiece and the purchase was underwritten by a grant from SPRING Singapore. The machines feature art work by local artists.

The owner of the bookstore Kenny Leck told Channel News Asia that the vending machines are already in use in Japan. He says he was inspired by Penguin Books' Penguincubator, which was unveiled in 1930s London. He explained, "The whole idea is about accessibility and eyeballs. There are not enough bookstores in Singapore, so we’ve previously also distributed (our books) to places such as (retail stores) Cat Socrates and Naiise’s pop-up stores. You have a different sort of demographic in these places."

Mr. Leck, who also runs Math Paper Press the publishing arm of the company, says that each vending machine holds between 120 to 150 books. He tries to stock around 20 titles from local publishers and authors. The machines stock a variety of genres, including literary fiction, children's fiction, graphic novels and poetry. The list is carefully compiled by the bookstore staff, so if you're running low on reading material you can browse, pay and buy.

He says next he wants to put a vending machine at the train station, which we think is a great idea. A book vending machine with interesting titles is the kind of thing that would definitely get us to make an impulse purchase while waiting for the train.

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