Literary Treats in West Palm Beach

Coffee drinkers and bibliophiles are in for a real treat. Earlier this summer, Subculture Coffee, located on Clematis Street, became the first location in West Palm Beach to install a Short Story Dispenser. Now, patrons can enjoy a free side of literature with their iced coffee or cappuccino.

The sleek and easy-to-use machine sits idly by waiting for the next visitor to come along and hit one of its three buttons, labeled “1,” “3,” or “5,” with each number representing approximately how many minutes the short story will take to read. Printed out of the machine, looking like a long grocery receipt, is actually a short story to peruse. The dispenser is full of numerous tales covering a variety of topics, so you never know just what you’ll get. Literary fans might receive Theirry Covolo’s “Time to Go Home,” a three-minute read about a couple neglecting time while relaxing on an island. Or, they could end up with Sylvie Loy’s “The Little Wheels,” a super-short story about a girl reflecting on learning to ride a bike.

West Palm Beachers have the Downtown Development Authority and the Arts & Entertainment District to thank for these dispensers, but the original idea and design comes courtesy of Short Édition. In 2011, this French nonprofit publisher created an online forum for writers to submit their short stories. Using these works, Short Édition then placed the dispensers throughout France, in train stations, malls, cafés, and more. The concept has spread globally, pleasing curious readers at 138 locations around the world. This year, West Palm Beach became the second U.S. city to embrace this fun trend.

In a time of excessive electronic consumption, a free reading option is a nice change of pace. In addition to Subculture Coffee, a Short Story Dispenser was recently introduced at E.R. Bradley’s Saloon at the West Palm Beach Waterfront, providing locals and visitors with even more opportunities to add some literature to their day.

The Short Story Dispenser in action at Subculture Coffee. Photo courtesy of the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority and the Arts & Entertainment District.

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