A little innovation in retail and customer experience – the Biblio-Mat vending machine

17th December 2012
Photo by Jonathan Ford on Unsplash

Photo by Jonathan Ford on Unsplash

We love the simplicity (and of course the retro chic design) of this unusual vending machine that recently popped up in an independent second hand book shop in Toronto.

The ‘Biblio-Mat’ was the brain child of interactive designer Craig Small and is intended as an original alternative to the omnipresent bargain bin of well thumbed, discounted books that one might expect to find tucked in the corner of most bookstores.

Offering  a randomly selected secondhand book – the machine is deliberately designed to operate in a dramatic, analogue way. Once a user inserts their two dollars, it rattles into life, clunking and whirring to deliver a beautifully wrapped, randomly selected second hand book into the hands of the consumer. An old telephone bell rings as the book drops down into the slot at the bottom of the machine with a pleasing clunk. This one-of -a-kind machine presents a unique experience for bargain-hunters whilst also providing them with a chance to broaden their reading horizons. The books are picked by the machine at random, from a selection which has been carefully curated by the bookshop owner – potentially offering the peruser a new path to a literary genre that they might not have taken before.

The Biblio-Mat offers shoppers an interesting, interactive retail experience whilst also pursuing the current trend for upcycling which has flourished in recent years. This is a great  example of how  innovative retail design and customer experiences are being developed to get people back into stores – whilst also selling units – in a mutually-beneficial transaction. We think this idea would work well in train stations and coffee shops. The charming, retro retail design provides a satisfying antithesis to online shopping where the emphasis is on sleek, minimalist and ultra modern design and upselling for maximum profits.