Book Vending Machine promote local culture and literature

Singapore’s first book vending machines might not have produced spectacular sales.

But their owner, local bookseller BooksActually, maintains that they are a great success.

Around 60 items, including books, CDs and films by local creators, were purchased from the two machines during their first weekend of operation, netting BooksActually about $800 in revenue.

Ms Qingyi Kiu, a spokesman for BooksActually, said the figures were low compared to sales from traditional platforms, such as BooksActually’s online and physical stores.

“We’re looking really to raise awareness and create excitement around Singaporean literature and creatives, not to boost sales,” Ms Kiu told The New Paper yesterday.

“And we’re humbled by all the attention (the machines are) getting.”

The machines first began operation last Friday,with one set up at the National Museum of Singapore and the other at the Singapore Visitor Centre. A third vending machine will be installed later this month at Goodman Arts Centre.

Since their installation, the machines have received a fair amount of media attention, including overseas news sites such as Mashable and The Reading Room.

They have also caused a stir on social media – the publicity announcement on BooksActually’s Facebook page has over a thousand likes.

“We’re thankful for all the features. With all the attention the book vending machines are getting, the interest in the store and Singaporean literature in general should spike,” said Ms Kiu.

The machines’ novelty may be the major selling point for now, but BooksActually hopes the hype will soon be about the books themselves.

Each machine features up to 20 titles by Singaporean writers and artists, including novels, DVDs and anthologies of poetry and short stories.

Popular titles include children’s mystery series Sherlock Sam by Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low-Jimenez, and Alvin Pang’s What Gives Us Our Names.

Prices on the vending machines are the same as those stated on the BooksActually’s website, and the machines give change in coins.

Mr Ryan Low, 22, a university student, says he was not disappointed.

“I feel like the selection was carefully done and the books in there all seemed fantastic. There was even a small panel that flashed summaries and reviews of the books in the machine,” he told TNP.