Bibliomat: a vending machine for random rare and antiquarian books (with satisfying clunk)

Craig sez, "The Biblio-Mat is a random book dispenser built by Craig Small for The Monkey's Paw, an idiosyncratic antiquarian bookshop in Toronto. Biblio-Mat books, which vary widely in size and subject matter, cost two dollars. The machine was conceived as an artful alternative to the ubiquitous and often ignored discount sidewalk bin. When a customer puts coins into it, the Biblio-Mat dramatically whirrs and vibrates as the machine is set in motion. The ring of an old telephone bell enhances the thrill when the customer's mystery book is delivered with a satisfying clunk into the receptacle below."

The BIBLIO-MAT (Thanks, Craig!)


  1. Wonderful!!! And a truly ingenious system, although I would have liked it to remain a mystery (but curious me couldn’t look away).

    … and now I want book vending machines, too!

  2. I wonder how it can tell to drop just one book, given that the books are all different thicknesses, weights, sizes, and so forth.

    I could blow through a couple hundred bucks on that thing way, way too fast. . . 

    1.  A sensor on the way out of the slide. Once something begins to fall… stop movin the book pile up!

  3. I read the title and went ‘damn that’s cool wish it was local’ then lowered my eyes ever so slightly and discovered IT WAS!
    I love collecting old books, this is PERFECT!!

  4. I am seeking a rare manuscript entitled “The King in Yellow.” I am most keen in acquiring it and studying it for the purposes of producing a play.

    1.  I put in my money hoping for a copy of “The King In Yellow”, too.

      Much to my disappointment I got some morbid old Brit thing called “The Courier’s Tragedy” – which I dropped off in the Goodwill pickup box on my way home.  Two bucks down the drain…..

  5. I’m happy to report that the biblio-mat is as wonderful as described. I was in Toronto last weekend and had the pleasure of hearing it whirr and thunk. The owner and I were both surprised that I already had a copy of the resulting book. I am equally (and pleasantly) surprised to see the biblio-mat in my morning boingboing perusal. Lovely bookshop by the way…

  6. I just used this when I visited Toronto last weekend! Really cool idea. The owner of the store said that it needs to be calibrated, as earlier that week someone put in a coin and it spit out several books. So it is sort like a slot machine.

  7. Ummm…not sure I want a surprise from anyplace called Monkey’s Paw. Historically, that hasn’t been a great deal.

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