Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Story Rx: Flying Stinks. What about YA book vending machines in airports?

The French are snooty. It's true. But if a culture's vending machines are the windows to the culture's soul (Natch, I just made that up) - the soul of France is also pretty darn cool. I mean, in what other country can you buy a middle of the night fix of Homer or Baudelaire from a curbside book vending machine?

Now, if the same idea of vending machines revealing deep cultural truths holds true for America, we're in trouble. Vending machines here sell -- what? Twizzlers? Condoms? Single dose packets of Midol?

What does that tell about us as a culture? That we like sweets, sex, and have a lot of PMS? If our vending machines were to reflect some cultural truth about us - well, why not America's legendary love affair with youth?

Which got me thinking. (stay with me, here) There's nothing I dread more than airplane travel. Unfortunately, as a daughter of Indian immigrants, and the daughter-in-law of European immigrants, long airplane trips are just part and parcel of my family life. Ugh. That stale air, all that shoe taking off and lack of liquids, the squishy hard seats, and most of all the sheer BOREDOM of it all.

For a recent plane trip, I made a deal with my voracious reader. Although Harry Potter #4 almost undid him - Cedric Diggory dying and all that - I made him a deal that IF he felt up to it, he could read HP#5 on the plane. He just about did back flips and it was all I could do not to have him start that very night but save the story for the trip - like that last, luscious piece of dessert you save to eat when all your peas are done. Of course, it was for a very selfish reason too. Have you SEEN the size of HP#5? It's LONG. And HEAVY, yes, but that was a price I was willing to pay for hours of a happy and entertained son. As back up, I decided to take along Rick Riordan's Red Pyramid - which I hadn't read either. Also heavy, yes. But also LONG. Hooray! The plan was for me to finish the Riordan and then hand it off to the son if he was done with Harry.

Now, not everyone can be such a pre-planner as I am. What if (*gasp*) you show up in the airport with nothing to read??? Wouldn't it be cool if, instead of the latest people mag or other nonsensical beach read, there were YA vending machines in airports -- or better yet, in airplanes? (yes, I know there are bookstores in airports which sell YA books, but I'm talking BIG IDEA here people, don't squelch my enthusiasm)

So here's my manifesto. Why there should be YA vending machines in airports. Ahem:

1. YA books are (usually) full of hope - or at least, full of plot. Both key to overcoming travel boredom and misery.

2. You can trade them off with your kids for hours of all family fun.

3. It's less embarrassing to read YA than, say, the latest bodice ripper about a Duke and bodacious scullery wench -- yet, many YA romances often tap into that self-same spot of readerly enjoyment.

4. YA books are often LONG. And that's more than can be said of, say, People Magazine or US Weekly. I mean, who would you rather read about - Katie Holmes or Hermione Granger? What would you rather read about? Some celebrity 1,000 dollar celebrity baby shower or a televised reality show where kids fight to their deaths? Come on, people, it's no contest!

YA vending machines - an idea whose time has come!

Errr. Probably. Well. Maybe.

I mean, hey, it's right in line with flight attendants who dance to Lady Gaga. A better idea, even.

(What do you like to read when travelling???)


  1. I like to read YA, of course! of my favorite books of all time -- my comfort read when the rest of the world needs to go to hell and leave me alone -- that's Diana Gabaldon's Outlander.

    Oooo. Maybe I could beg her to write about when that luscious Jamie was a teenager in France.... mmmmmm. a thought....

  2. Book vending machines...Oh, I could get into this! :)

  3. I know - which sounds better - a cool book or a stale twinkie in a vending machine? just sayin'...

  4. When i was in the street of Florida, I saw Vending Machines in excessive amount.There were machines offering cold drinks, coffee, snacks , candy, Books , etc. There machines are operated automatically. People have to push the button on the item they want and the machine will provide it to you after entering the coin or credit card into the machine.