November 14, 2012: The Biblio-Mat

Ah, the internet, such a weird and wonderful place. With each visit you never know what you’re going to find. A trip to Pinterest for Halloween costume inspiration might result in a helpful how-to for achieving perfect Farrah Fawcett hair on any day of the year. Linger on Youtube for any length of time and you’re bound to have the Gangnam Style dance down pat. It really is the ne plus ultra of wasting time and for me it’s the blind corners that hide the best surprises.

The other day, I was catching up on one of my favourite blogs, pi’lo, written by the very talented Heather Shaw. Heather owns a housewares business of the same name (although the term housewares doesn’t quite do it justice; everything she sells is beautiful, simple, useful and handmade by her) and her blog reveals her sources of inspiration and the process behind her work. Her aesthetic is minimalist and monochromatic, almost Quaker in its simplicity. I find her blog extremely calming and am always inspired to madly de-clutter my house and paint everything white after reading one of her posts.

It was a delightful surprise when one of Heather’s recent posts talked about visiting her friend Stephen’s book store armed with a fistful of toonies because the store has a book vending machine that spits out random old books for just two dollars each. How great is that? Obviously I clicked through to the book store’s website and found myself face to face with the Biblio-Mat, the world’s first and only antiquarian book vending machine. The Biblio-Mat was installed at the end of October at The Monkey’s Paw, Toronto’s most idiosyncratic secondhand bookshop (self-described). Although their books are only available to purchase through their physical shop at 1229 Dundas Street West, the store’s blog reveals some of their recent acquisitions and more unusual stock (with four ways to sort the titles – beautiful, arcane, macabre and absurd). While I could certainly spend hours browsing their site, I’d rather head over to the store armed with toonies of my own so I can experience the Biblio-Mat for myself.

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