(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

I like to travel but I’m not a very good packer. Admittedly, I usually forget something and end up having to buy it at the airport or my final destination. That’s usually not a big deal. However, the one thing I hate to leave behind before a trip to the airport is whatever I happen to be reading at the time. If I’m in the middle of a book and forget to pack it, I might as well cancel the trip and go back home. Obviously, I don’t; that would be crazy. So then I have to find something else to read before I get on the plane.

Flying without something to read is unthinkable to me. It used to be that I could count on finding a magazine on the plane, but that’s not always the case now. Since the pandemic, the presence of those in-flight magazines has been hit or miss. Therefore, I have to pick up some reading material at an airport bookshop or newsstand. But if I’m ever flying out of the airport in Wichita, Kansas, I’d have another option: the short story dispenser.

According to the Wichita Public Library, Wichita became one of four cities to receive Short Édition short story dispensers thanks to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 2018. The dispensers print out short stories from three categories: Short Édition Stories, Children’s Stories, and Local Stories. That last category allows for local writers to submit their original works. The stories are also categorized based on reading time: 1 minute, 3 minutes, or 5 minutes.

The short story dispensers occasionally rotate around Wichita and, as of December 1, 2022, one of them is stationed at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. What a great idea, especially in that location. Now, forgetful travelers like me can have something to read, at least during takeoff. And while it looks like a vending machine, from the video below, it appears that the stories are free.


wichita public library has the most delightful short story dispenser at the airport!

♬ original sound - KimEngineers