Books, hot meals, even a shoe shine were all available from a machine.
Visitors to modern day Japan are often astounded at the many things that can be purchased from a vending machine- from hot food to clothing items to souvenirs and more. But, in some Western cities there was once such a cluster of vending machines that a similar variety of items could be bought without even going into a shop. In London pinball machines, vending machines, and automated canteen services were all referred to as slot machines- owing to the slot where one places their money to get something back.
Over time increasing crime rates in many areas meant that keeping vending machines on the street was no longer possible without the machines being vandalized and their contents stolen. Still, for a time the vending machine and automat trade was a booming business that offered a thoroughly modern way to buy one’s goods. Since labor is often the most expensive part of any business vending machines do offer a more efficient way to get one’s goods, often available round the clock. Back in the old days there were vending machine book stores and even a coin-operated shoe shining machine complete with black or brown polish!
Have a look at the days of the thriving vending machine in the video below from 1964.