With such names as "Vend-A-Book," "Read-O-Mat" and "Book-O-Mat," vending machines that dispense books are highly touted but only mildly popular.
From the December 1962 edition of Library Journal: "It was inevitable that someone would think of it, and now it is here. A paperback vending machine has just been introduced, and it has exciting possibilities for libraries. True, it sells paperback books, two characteristics that may decrease its appeal for some libraries; but the U.S. in 1962 is an affluent society where very few of the adults using a library cannot afford the price of a paperback -- often less than the cost of a hamburger and coffee."
The concept was not a new one (and it continues to this day). English publisher Richard Carlile came up with the first book vending machine in the 1820s (specifically to sell Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason"), and in the 1930s, Penguin Books installed a book dispenser in London, called the Penguincubator. The late 1940s also saw increased promotion and interest.
* Excerpt from "Vending Machines: An American Social History" (book by Kerry Segrave): @
* "Paperback promotionals" (from Paperback Quarterly, 1979): @
* "Old, Weird Tech: The Penguincubator, A Book Vending Machine" (from theatlantic.com, 2011): @
* "Book Publishers Eyeing Venders as Sales Decline" (from The Billboard magazine, February 28, 1948): @
* "Book Machines Get Williams Into Vending" (from Billboard Music Week, October 27, 1962): @