Netflix-type service for books

December 13, 2007

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Now, wouldn’t that be a killer? In fact, there are several services that already exist. But I’ll mention BookSwim here, because that is the one that I came across first at readwriteweb. It’s a simple service: you sign up, create a list of books you want, you get them shipped to you, you keep them for as long as you want, and you ship it back to receive more books.

The best feature at BookSwim is their ‘rent w/option to buy’. If you really really liked a book that you rented, you just pay the used-book price for that book and keep it for yourself. And the next book in your queue is shipped right away. This is pretty cool, because most of the time, the books that I get from the library turn out to be keepers, and books that I buy turn out to be a drudge.

However, the main inhibitor for this service is the cost. From the readwriteweb article on BookSwim,

BookSwim has plans starting at $14.99/month, which allow you to take out two books at once. Assuming your library is often out of the books you’re into, you’d need to read about three books (trade paperbacks cost about $6-7 each) per month, or at least one higher priced new release hardcover book to justify that cost.

Other similar services are PaperSpine and Booksfree. Both have identical price points.

And while on the topic of renting books, another fun activity with books is ‘catch-and-release’ at BookCrossing.com. Wikipedia defines bookcrossing as

the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.

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