Vending machines dispensing short stories for commuters to read as they travel across London have appeared in the capital.

The machines, in three locations in Canary Wharf, print out one, three or five-minute reads for Londoners for free at the touch of a button.

The library of fiction contains a variety of texts, including excerpts from classic literature as well as an exclusive new story from Alex Rider author Anthony Horowitz.

A woman uses a short story vending machine at Canary WharfThe one, three and five-minute stories are dispensed at random (Sean Pollock/Short Story Stations, Canary Wharf)

Lucie Moore, head of arts and events for Canary Wharf Group, said: “We’re all so busy that it can be hard to find the time to finish a book, so we hope these short stories provide the perfect ‘bite sized’ content – even if for just a few minutes.”

The stories are dispensed at random, so commuters could find themselves reading anything from science fiction to romance to crime, a genre which includes Horrowitz’s new story Mrs Robinson.

Horowitz said: “Here’s a whodunnit, complete with suspects and clues, that can be started and finished in just a minute. I hope it will entertain Tube travellers who will know, at least, that they won’t have the frustration of having to get off before the end.”

The machines, the brainchild of French company Short Edition, began dispensing stories on Thursday at Jubilee Place, Churchill Place and Crossrail Place Roof Garden.

According to Canary Wharf Group, the stories are printed on “eco-friendly papyrus paper and do not require ink or cartridges”.

Similar schemes have been run in locations around the world including Paris, Hong Kong and San Francisco.