Literature dispenser

There are many things I do not know about Argentina. Until today, one of them was this: if you’re in an Argentinian bank, you may not use electronic devices. That includes phones and e-readers like the Kindle (and I can’t be the only person here who is pretty much surgically attached to their Kindle).

Enter the literature dispenser.

Roni Bandini, an Argentinian author, found himself twiddling his thumbs in a Buenos Aires bank queue, and thought that perhaps the 50 other people he could see in the same situation might benefit from a little distraction. How about a machine, owned by the bank, that could furnish you with one of a curated selection of short stories at the touch of a button? The short stories bit was easy: he writes them for a living.

He chose a Raspberry Pi because there are so many libraries for thermal printers and LCD displays available (and because it’s tiny, and you can fit a heck of a lot of short stories on an SD card these days).

Roni says:

This project was “trial and error” in many aspects. I had troubles with power source amperage due to thermal printer requirements, conflicts with previous software running in the Raspberry – since the same one was used for other projects – and I had to write some routines to avoid words being split due to ticket width. Since the machine could be working for 12 hours in a row, I have added a small 5v cooling fan in the back.

He built a wooden prototype, and was helped out by Z-lab, a small, local 3d print design studio, with permanent casing (which is rather lovely).

literature dispenser

The UI’s very simple: press the green button, be rewarded with a short story, printed to order on a till strip. We’d love to see businesses use these in real life (and we’re thinking one of these would be a lovely addition to the Pi Towers lobby, to help soothe anxious interview candidates). Thanks Roni – I’m off to try to find some of your work in translation, and we’re all agreed that we’re very grateful for internet banking.



So you either bring a Raspberry Pi into the bank to print your story, which you can’t because they won’t let you use electronic devices in their bank, or you need to get the bank to agree to attach this electronic device you’ve built yourself permanently to their thermal printers? I’m not quite sure I understand how this helps people waiting in the queue at the bank. Unless you print out your reading material at home before setting off for the bank… In which case why not print it out the usual way? Or bring a book or the paper with you? 8-?

[And is the “no electronic devices” thing based on the same ‘sound logic’ as our “no mobile phones at petrol stations” rule?]


“How about a machine, owned by the bank”

“owned by the bank”


and as it’d be owned by the bank they could put the “serving next number” number on the top of the short story. if the queue is moving slowly maybe the device could select a longer short story and if it’s moving quickly a short short story

Liz Upton

Ooh, I like that. And a haiku if there’s nobody in the line in front of you.


haiku’s or limericks.

there was a young man in a bank
who used

hmmmm probably better I don’t finish that one :)


you came for a loan
we agree wholeheartedly
collateral now!

the bank is closed for the holidays, please accept this copy of war and peace

caution! floor is slippery when wet. also, armed robbery in progress. we apologise for any inconvenience.

Liz Upton

This queue is awful.
I’ve missed two meetings and lunch.
Choose online banking.


Raspberry Pis bought
among maddened shoppers
this Thanksgiving day

(Because the new Raspberry Pi 3A+ is in the stores in November, instead of February. ;) )


It’s a good idea, with pros and cons,the paper waste it’s the most relevant, please save trees


This is quite a slick implementation…is there any chance that we could see some information on the actual build, and/or the software that makes it all run? It seems like this could be the inspiration for any number of related projects, and details on the build would be extremely helpful to getting people started.


I think this could be really interesting. But, I do worry that “thermal paper” my be somewhat toxic, in addition to consuming trees and creating more paper waste. Potential issue if the printed copies are very faint or smudged as are receipts I sometimes get using this technology.


Cool project! I encourage everybody here posting concerns about the paper waste to write on their postboxes, that they do not want paper advertisements – in this way you save much more paper.

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