West Palm Beach short story dispenser

The sights, sounds, rhythms and art continue to move the lifeblood of our city. The West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and West Palm Beach Arts & Entertainment District are now looking forward to the next generation of literary exploration. And in that spirit, they spearheaded the launch of the short story dispenser, a high-quality, innovative gadget that uses the magic of the written word to enhance your experience as customer as you wait to be served.

As you enter the hip Subculture Coffee on Clematis Street, you will find a bright modern stand with elegant design that suggests: “don’t just wait, read!”

Conceived and created by Short Édition, a nonprofit community publisher based in France, this tool perhaps answers the question, “Is reading a lost art in America?” 

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Slow readership is definitely not the future for our city; on the contrary. In this brave new world of digital publishing, it has been a few years since a turtle-necked Steve Jobs, co-founder of the Apple empire, exclaimed how easily the iPad would allow people to read books and news digitally. Flash forward to 2017. When people say they’ve read a book, they rarely mean in print. But, they’re reading.

This “keep thinking different,” type of mentality is what has brought Short Édition to our city. “We thought it was a cool idea to bring another form of art—literature—to our community,” said Teneka James, DDA’s Associate Director. “From what I understand, they have a few locations internationally, but nothing in the United States, aside from the one location in San Francisco.”

The first Short Édition in America was installed by director, writer, and producer Francis Ford Coppola at his Coppola enclave in San Francisco. And now, West Palm Beach has become the second city in America completely lit.

The story starts when DDA approached Short Édition, about a few months ago, expressing their wish to have a station here. Soon after, some staff members of Short Édition traveled to WPB and took a tour of our city, looking at strategical locations where it could be launched.

With its cool, good, and fun vibe, Subculture Coffee, the up and coming coffee shop on 509 Clematis Street, fitted the model perfectly. It caters to our city’s lifestyle well. For starters, it serves a strong cup of joe. It also attracts a diverse group, from younger high schoolers to Palm Beach Atlantic college students to young professionals, and Baby Boomers who are regulars on the scene.

West Palm Beach short story dispenser
What is it like being at Subculture Coffee? Be my guest…

At Subculture you can eat, drink, work, play, talk, or simply sit back and enjoy the chilled and creative ambiance with hip music playing in the background. The new annex particularly is an area where you can choose from delicious sandwiches [try the Cuban sandwich], salads, and smoothies with cool names like Cocoa Loco. It’s also a suitable spot for a short story reading as you eat.

The short dispenser offers 1-minute, 3-minute and 5-minute stories, a unique tool that allows you to quickly read a fictional story as you wait or enjoy your food or drink.

West Palm Beach short story dispenser
Maritza Cosano herself enjoying her first short story at lunch

The stories come from a database of over 500 stories, and the DDA eventually intends to roll out about three or four other locations throughout the downtown area. But in addition to that—and here’s the real good news for local fiction writers—plans are already under way for writers to be able to submit their short stories to Short Édition for review and publishing consideration.

“When we approached them, the company thought it was a brilliant idea to engage the community and invite local fiction writers to submit their short stories,” said Teneka James.

While Subculture has the whole gamut of diversity in that one location, it’s definitely not the only one of its kind in our downtown area. So, be on the lookout for more short story dispensers offering free fictional short stories for all to enjoy, maybe as early as this summer.

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