Vending machines usually sell hot beverages, sometimes snack bars. Now, they also trade books.
Matt Webb, a bot breeder, connected objects specialist and Mind Hacks author, developed a book distributor in the form of a vending machine. Called the Machine Supply, it is connected to the web for book recommendations, bringing the books like how people order their coffee in vending machines.
It has already made its debut in the lounge at Campus London, one of Google’s incubators, in the second quarter of 2016.
This idea dawned upon Webb when he focused on creating hardware, after working on a contributive online game early in his career.
Machine Supply started from a second-hand vending machine on Ebay. Webb opened it and learned a thing or two about it.
“Inside the vending machine, all the different bits are plugged a bit like speakers to your computer. The protocol was designed by Coca Cola Japan in the 1960s. They were the ones to define how vending machines would work,” he says.
Because he wanted to tweak how the machine works, Webb sought the help of an engineer and created a tool capable of understanding the protocol of the vending machine, linking the machine to the Internet. The technology comes with an automatic tweet and a website update every after purchase of a book.
But Webb shares that Machine Supply is not as talkative as he wants it to be for the project is still in its “pre-pre alpha, hobby” stage.
Distributor Gardners set up a partnership with Webb to get the books at a much lower cost, amid the small orders.
There is no denial from Webb that making profit out of this venture is somehow difficult. “It literally needs people walking up to the machine in a line”, he tells.
At least this creative manifestation of a bookstore is a great way to revive the traditional books and bookstores from dying due to digitization in both product and marketplace.