short edition

Image via Short Edition

APEX Insight: As long-standing tech giants from Samsung to Sony erected massive displays of their ingenuity at last week’s CES, 800 startups gathered in Eureka Park about a mile and a half away, with booths a fraction of the size. But bigger isn’t always better, so APEX Media walked the halls of Eureka Park, looking for the next big thing in PaxEx. In this second installment of “Eureka!,” we bring you Short Edition and the first-ever short story dispenser.

Based in Grenoble, France, Short Edition has been amassing a database of independent literature for over six years, but it was only last year that the publishing startup invented the Short Story Dispenser, a vending machine that prints short stories of varying length (one, three or five minutes) on small scrolls of papyrus paper.

“Our founders are publishers by trade. They started the platform online seeking authors to write short stories that would last one, three, five or 20 minutes. They have different genres from romance to drama to science fiction. We have a database of 100,000 stories and 8,000 authors. That was the beginning,” says Kristan Leroy, export director for Short Edition.

The dispenser has since been backed by acclaimed director and writer Francis Ford Coppola, and popped up in various locations in France and abroad, including shopping malls, universities, smart cities, train stations and even airports. “The company aims to encourage reading and enchant travelers while helping people poetically kill wait time before boarding a plane,” Leroy says. “Being surprised by a short story at the gate helps passenger angst [caused by] waiting to board, flight delays and entertaining family.”

“The company aims to encourage reading and enchant travelers while helping people poetically kill wait time before boarding a plane.” — Kristan Leroy, Short Edition

Paris Aéroport and Vinci Airports in Nantes and Lyon, France, are among Short Edition’s clients, and as of December, so is Edmonton International Airport in Canada, where “the company orchestrated with local authors,” Leroy says. “International hubs are ideal as the content can be adapted to the airport’s needs: multi-lingual, adult-children content, as well as local content.” 

Moving forward, Short Edition is working on getting its hands on more American content, and expanding to the west, which shouldn’t be hard given all the buzz surrounding the startup. “We have not gone out to anyone. The airports came to us. We’ve had so much press, we can’t even respond to all the demands that we have.”

With airports ranking high as ideal locations for the short story dispenser, Leroy thinks airlines could benefit from the new technology, too: “The fact that the airline offers free art without an advertising gimmick behind the story allows them to offer a more emotional gift to boost customer satisfaction, in a highly creative way.” 

Valerie is deputy editor at APEX Media.