If you find yourself muttering the old adage of "It's not the gift, but the thought that counts" at some point this holiday season, you're likely the recipient of something that did not have a spot on your letter to Santa. But what if that unwanted gift could be turned into an international bestseller?

Such holiday magic is exactly what German trade publisher Bastei Lübbe and book retailer Hugendubel have conjured in the creation of a new unwanted gift vending machine. From Dec. 28-30, the giant box will make appearances at shopping centers in Munich, Ingolstadt and Nuremberg. Simply drop off a present and the machine will pop out one of seven bestselling books from such authors as Rebecca Gable, Sarah Lark, Diana Amft and Ethan Cross.

"Books are simply the best gifts in the world, and the conversion machine is a wonderful way that [can be] emphasized again even after the holidays," said Ricarda Witte-Masuhr, marketing manager for the firm behind the idea.

At the conclusion of the campaign, all unwanted gifts will be given to local charities.

book vending giftThe book vending machine will run in cities around Germany from Dec. 28-30, 2015. All unwanted gifts will be donated to charity. (Photo: Olivier Favre)

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

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