Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Netflix for Books?

A message popped up in my inbox yesterday morning for a 50% off deal for "BookSwim SF." I clicked on it and entered a self proclaimed "Netflix for Books" website. Intriguing. But how useful is this? In case you're not familiar with Netflix, here's how it works. The basic plan $23.95 a month. You can receive 3 books at a time with no time limit and late fees. When you're done with the books, you just send them back in a prepaid envelope. There are also higher priced plans, the most expensive being $59.95, where you can receive 11 books at a time.

The concept is clearly not new, but this application is especially interesting. Multiple websites other using this model have been popping up in the past year including, and Maybe this could be a good thing for the supposedly dying print media.
Call me old fashioned, but I've never been comfortable reading anything more than 3 pages on a computer/tablet screen. Perhaps Borders and B&N can learn from this. But then again, imitating Netflix and putting Kiosks at grocery stores didn't save Blockbuster, either.

Now, I must admit I'm not a big reader, so I could be biased. But whatever happened to going to the library? A lot of libraries have online catalogs these days. You can check to see whether the book you want is there or not without leaving your home. Even buying used books online through Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble is easy. This will probably save as much as renting. Plus, there's no pressure of finishing the books to get your money's worth. But maybe a little bit of pressure is a good thing. I know I'll definitely be more diligent about reading if I feel like I'm wasting money by not doing it fast enough. I can see the argument that libraries carry a limited number of titles, but after reading some reviews online of BookSwim, it seems like the company needs to improve on that front, too.

So is this a good platform for book borrowing? Not from where I'm standing (sitting, really). Perhaps you feel differently. We shall wait and see what the market says in the near future.


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