A mall on the fly

Stuck in Pittsburgh International at 3 a.m. with nothing to read? No problem.

Airport Airmall retailer WHSmith has just the ticket: a book vending machine.

Book.machine, a bank of vending machines on the outside of the WHSmith store, dispenses bestsellers like candy bars. The store offers touch screens inside as well that provide business and travel information, travel reservations, maps and directional information, and e-mail access.

Not to be outdone, Staples has opened its fourth location in the airport, offering traditional retail, a kiosk linked to Staples.com and direct phone lines. The hot items are hand-held organizers, built-to-order computers and precharged phone replacement batteries.

Not nearly as high-tech but offering products that can be just as high-priority, the Bath and Body Works has opened in the center core of the AirMall to offer travelers last-minute access to soaps and lotions in travel or full-size packages.

Ray Marano