The Noir Bookshop is bringing free books to the Boys and Girls Club of St. Louis by way of a new book vending machine.  Noir Book Shop calls it Onyx, exclusively from Global Vending Group, the creators of Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine. Noir bookshop owner Ymani Wince says it’s a one-of-a-kind way to get kids reading. Club kids put a token into the machine, and, in exchange, they get a book. The tokens are free, and there are 300 titles inside for kids to choose from.

What Is The Noir Book Shop?

The Noir Bookshop is one of few Black-owned bookstores in St. Louis. The owner, Ymani Wince, is proud that her store is part of the community. She is dedicated to promoting the Black experience. Her store hosts community events and provides space for diverse creators to showcase their work. In a 2022 interview with St. Louis Magazine Wince said, “The Noir Bookshop is not just a bookstore. You walk into a place like Barnes & Noble, and it’s very obvious it’s just a bookstore. The Noir Bookshop functions on three different pillars, which are education, inspiration, and community. Each of those pillars helps the entire cooperation function. Retail is just one function of TNB. I will also be hosting…other events in the community to help people with whatever information they want to know, free lunches, free dinner, things like that.”

However, the shop isn’t easy for children across the city to get to. Additionally, there was a $4.5 billion cut in state funding for libraries. Because of that Wince says, St. Louis can be considered a book desert. In that same 2022 interview, she said, “Thinking about how people on the South Side have made me feel—having a walkable neighborhood to take my dog two doors down to get groomed or going to Elaine’s Sandwich Shop and her knowing my favorite sandwich—Cherokee Street feels like Sesame Street, and I’ve been saying that for years,” Wince says. “I want to be the book lady. I want to be in this store for years to come.”

In 2023 she received a grant from the St. Louis Regional Racial Healing + Justice Fund, which she used to fund her first book vending machine.

Onyx – An Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine

ONYX is made exclusively by Global Vending Group, the creator of Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine! The book vending machine was recently unveiled at the Boys and Girls Club of St. Louis. Watch the video below to see clips from the exciting event.

How does the book vending machine work?

Children (pre-k-12) who visit the Boys and Girls Club of St. Louis insert a token into the vending machine and choose a free book. The book is theirs to keep, starting a home library. The machine can hold approximately 50 books, and young customers are free to choose whichever one they desire.

With Wince’s experience as a librarian, bookshop owner, and friend to teachers, she has her finger on the pulse of what kids are reading. Titles for the machine will be carefully selected. The goal is to encourage reading, build in-home library collections, and provide access to several genres of books.

In a 2023 interview with St. Louis Magazine Wince said, ““It’s time that as people we start working toward creating a level playing field toward literacy equity. I appreciate all the groups that are doing that and pushing that forward, and place a focus on my people, Black and brown children. I have no idea who these books will touch, but it feels important. It feels paramount to at least try to move the ball down the field.”

What Do The Kids Think?

For Ymani Wince, it’s about encouraging young readers, but to the young readers, this initiative means something more.

One kid at the Boys and Girls Club of St. Louis told PBS News Hour, “I feel like it helps me with basic stuff in life like it can help me get a job when I’m done with school.”

Another student added “I feel like I wouldn’t be anything without reading books. It helps me write.”

A third young lady stated, “It helps me express my feelings more. Some books are interesting, and you can learn a lot from people through books.”

Ymani Wince on the Readying Revolution

Ymani recently guest-starred on the Reading Revolution Podcast where she said, “The concept of reading is good. Literacy is good. And I think having access to information is a human right, no matter what you look like. I’ve had naysayers tell me that ‘You can’t change this; Black people don’t read. But here I am, a black woman, encouraging Black people to read, encouraging everyone to read, and reminding you that books are good.”

In the episode, Ymani Wince speaks with Podcast Host Joshua Gregory about the Noir Book Shop and Onyx. Ms. Wince reiterates that The Noir Book Shop is a bookstore that is passionately committed to showcasing the Black experience and fostering a sense of community through its educational programming and product offerings. She proudly reports that her book vending machine donation was a big part of her ongoing efforts to support three pillars – education, inspiration, and community.

“It’s all about impact for me—it has to go to the ones who need it the most. The idea is to meet the demand and have multiple machines,” Wince says. “This is the first in what I hope will be a network of machines.”

  • You can listen to Ymani’s episode of The Reading Revolution on YouTube or anywhere else you stream your podcasts. Be sure to like, share, and subscribe.
  • The Noir Book Shop is accepting book donations for infants, toddlers, and grades K-12. They are also accepting donations to support the book vending machine and the bookstore.
  • Onyx is an Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine made exclusively by Global Vending Group. Global Vending Group is proud to be a part of something much larger than themselves. The company and its employees believe in free and equitable access to books for everyone. If you want to bring Inchy’s Book Vending Machine to your school or organization, schedule a call today.

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