Train stations in France have installed vending machines which print unique short stories for passengers to enjoy while they wait, at no cost.
Over 5,000 anonymous authors have submitted stories to be included in the machines, and 35 stations will have the yellow boxes by the end of 2016 following a successful trial in Grenoble last year.
The machines have numbered buttons, allowing passengers to choose whether they want their story to take one, three or five minutes to read.
The stories cover a range of topics, including narratives from classical literature, lyrical poetry and fairy tales, according to the publishers who conceived the project, Short Edition.
Train operator SNCF said it had distributed 100,000 stories printed on paper over the past six months, from an entirely random selection.
SNCF said the purpose of the project was to introduce culture into train travel in a simple way, and encourage passengers to enjoy quality literature - describing the experience as “a journey before the journey”.
Short Edition director Christophe Sibieude told Telerama: “Our ambition is to see distributors pop up everywhere to encourage reading – and writing – and promote our artists. Brief stories have a place in our lives.
The 15 best opening lines in literature
The 15 best opening lines in literature
1/15 Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
2/15 Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
“All happy families are alike but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion.”
3/15 A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
4/15 Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
“I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with", which pitches you straight into the story.”
5/15 Middlemarch, by George Eliot
“Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.”
6/15 Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell
"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
7/15 The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. Whenever you feel like criticising any one, he told me, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
8/15 Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie
"All children, except one, grow up."
9/15 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
“They’re out there. Black boys in white suits up before me to commit sex acts in the hall and get it mopped up before I can catch them.”
10/15 Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
"There was no possibility of taking a walk that day."
11/15 One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
12/15 The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”
13/15 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
“You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.”
14/15 The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”
15/15 Catch 22, by Joseph Heller
"It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him."
“We thought it might be fun to have a distributor of stories that’d be just like a vending machine. The paper medium is a breath of fresh air, it’s more unexpected that a smartphone screen.”
Film director Francis Ford Coppola is said to be a fan of the machines and has installed one in the bar he owns in San Francisco.
In 2013, France was declared "a nation of writers" after a poll revealed 17 per cent of the population had written a draft for a book, with the majority of the manuscripts remaining unpublished.Reuse content