Exciting new book-related novelty discovered yesterday!
Airport duty-free normally holds very little appeal to me. I'm not one for perfume, booze or fags. The clothes shops are all a tad upmarket for my scruffy tastes, and full of scary assistants that wear too much make-up and give my very disreputable carry-on luggage their most professional scornful glare. I've taken up the habit of not buying top ten bestsellers in regular bookshops because they're the only ones that ever seem to appeal in the better airport bookshops. The worse ones are where Sidney Sheldon books go to die.
However yesterday, as I hauled my appallingly-to-a-shop-assistant-non-Burberry-clad self up to the departure gate while chatting to rpc via mobile, I was compelled to interrupt the flow of our conversation.
"Oh my god, it's a book vending machine. In the airport."
"I see," says rpc, being his usual supportive self. "Tell me about it." (or words to that effect - maybe I just imagined those ones, but they're true to the spirit of the man and I have hardcore jet lag).
"Well, it's a vending machine. But with books in it, not chocolate. They're covered in clingfilm wrappers and everything."
Pause while I reverently stare at the glass case of a red metal box. I note the books are not the same price as chocolate, but are not apparently over-priced either. Downside is the lack of ability to read back-blurb or browse. Upside is that I can imagine these mushrooming all over the country, in motorway service stations, train stations, left luggage offices, work breakrooms and so forth. Imagine someone wandering into a service station thinking, "Ooo. I'll just get a packet of mints. But look, a book vending-machine. Perhaps I'll pick up a paperback too."
"So what sort of boks are there, then?" (more support from rpc, who understands these things).
"Ermm... the usual. Dan Brown in the top row, the latest Jodi Picoult, Zadie Smith, Kellerman and No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency a Harry Potter, some colouring books, a few Sidney Sheldon..." Reverential silence as I realise that I've already read the books that appeal to me. "Maybe a colouring book. I could do with some felt-tips on the long flight." Not sleeping for 24 hours does put me in the mood for colouring.
"Yes. Well you'll have to blog about it."
Can't help feeling that like the German cigarette vending machines on the street (I'd only ever seen them safely indoors in pubs/clubs before) it's the novelty, rather than the content that appeals.