Oat Foundry Split Flap Display Adds New Element of Nostalgia to Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore

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PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, February 20, 2019 – New York City’s Shakespeare & Co. has been defying the odds for two decades as a successful independent bookstore, partly thanks to their carefully curated mix of nostalgia, modern technologies, and coffee. The store became well-known for being one of the few U.S. bookstores with an Espresso Book Machine that can print any paperback on-demand in the time it takes to make an espresso, which guests can also purchase at the in-store cafe.

At Shakespeare & Co.’s brand-new second location in Philadelphia’s Center City, the Espresso Book Machine experience is elevated even further through an old-school Oat Foundry Split Flap Display that showcases the title of the book currently being printed. The sound of the Split Flap clacking and the anticipation of the final text transports guests to a time when phones had rotary dials and books were enjoyed exclusively through paper and ink.

“Shakespeare & Co. wanted to create an experience that activates all of their customers’ senses, while reviving the feel of a time before smartphones and push notifications,” said Oat Foundry Co-Founder and CEO Mark Kuhn. “Split flap displays were once a leading information delivery technology, adorning the walls of train stations and alerting passengers to changes with their recognizable ‘clacking’ sounds. Today, our Split Flap Display has allowed Shakespeare & Co. to take their specialized book-printing service even further by audibly and visually sharing the current title being printed with all customers. It truly is a book-buying experience people won’t find anywhere else!”

After discussing options with the engineers at Oat Foundry, which is also based in Philadelphia, Shakespeare & Co. decided to purchase a 2 row by 24 column Split Flap Display that seamlessly ties into the Espresso Book Machine experience.

“Providing a unique way to buy a book, and to buy books that may not be found anywhere anymore, is a fantastic incentive for people to visit a physical bookstore,” Kuhn added. “For the modern generation, which is inundated with digital notifications devoid of tactile, physical impact, the Split Flap Display offers an even more nostalgic and memorable experience. It raises excitement with an almost-forgotten technology that most guests have likely never seen in the real world.”

The Espresso Book Machine is a 3D printer that resembles an industrial printer and uses recycled paper to produce publisher-quality paperbacks in just minutes. For just $15.99, customers can simply hop on over to the machine and print out a book, even ones not available in hardcopy.

In addition to showcasing the title of the book currently printing, Shakespeare & Co. uses the Split Flap Display to track and share the total number of books printed globally by the brand. Both functions are fully automated, requiring no input from employees or customers.

“From a functional standpoint, the Split Flap offers a dynamic way to display the cumulative number of books printed on our machines worldwide, and individual titles printed in real time,” said Shakespeare & Co. CEO Dane Neller. “From an experiential standpoint, the Split Flap is both entertaining and informative, engaging our patrons with the book printing technology.”

Kuhn concluded, “When a company needs a one-of-a-kind attraction or a precision-engineered product to serve a specific purpose, Oat Foundry delivers. From our popular, hand-built Split Flap Displays to custom-designed products like a brewing still or photography lightbox, our engineers exceed every expectation and bring every client’s vision to life.”

For hi-res images of the installation, click here. 

About Oat Foundry

Founded and operated by Philadelphia natives, Oat Foundry is an agency of engineers that design and build cool stuff for brands and companies. From Split Flap Displays to an industrialized cold brew plant – the company is a fully capable engineering design studio in a prototyping and light scape manufacturing facility. Oat Foundry has become the world’s leading provider of Split Flap displays, with displays in operation domestically and internationally, with installations in the United States, UK, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, and Azerbaijan.

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