Remember a year or so ago, when all the talk was about how swell Netflix is, and how libraries should try to imitate that model? Well, someone has – and it’s not a library.

BookSwim is a book rental library. From their site:

Online Book Rental Library. Stop buying books when you can borrow new releases and classics with free shipping!

Netflix has popularized online DVD Rental. We`re doing it for books!

BookSwim is the first online BOOK RENTAL LIBRARY CLUB lending you paperbacks and hardcovers directly to your house WITHOUT THE NEED TO PURCHASE! Whether it’s New Releases, Bestsellers, or Classics, we’ve got 150,000 titles to choose from, with FREE SHIPPING BOTH WAYS! Read your books as long as you want. — no late fees! Even choose to purchase and keep the titles you love!

It’s not particularly cheap – plans start at $19.99 per month.

So, why couldn’t libraries do this???? We could charge a patron a monthly fee to mail books to them, couldn’t we? We already have the collection. It seems to me the hook here is that someone doesn’t have to go somewhere to pick a book up – it’s delivered to them. Convenient. Easy.

Now, why didn’t we think of that?



Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship

4 responses to “BookSwim

  1. Actually, many larger urban public libraries like Seattle, Chicago, and others have a books by mail delivery system. They mostly target homebound, but some have a fee set-up. I am actually working on developing this at my library.

    Also, they are very responsive. Your mention of them may generate a comment from them 🙂

  2. Thanks, Jeff! Frankly, I was hoping to hear just that sort of story. I had rather assumed that there were SOME libraries out there doing this.

    The codicil to this, of course, is that some of us are offering this fabulous service….and it’s a very well-kept secret. Marketing is not the librarian’s forte in most cases.

    Please keep me updated as to when you get this instituted at your library! I’ll help toot your horn a bit.


  3. BookWorm

    If you don’t have access to a good library, give a try. They have been doing this for years.

  4. Susan

    What really floors me is this — why don’t we already do this with interlibrary loan? You have to have the book shipped anyway. Why ship it to the library, make the staff check it in, make the patron come in, make the patron bring it back, make the staff handle it once again and ship it back? Wouldn’t it make more sense to send it straight to the patron with a prepaid mailer to send it back? Savings in staff time would probably more than cover the handful of books “lost in the mail.” And just like if you have a patron who seems repeatedly to claim that he/she brought the book back (or even tries to sneak it onto the shelves and then claim they already brought it back — see? SEE??), if you had someone with a suspicious number of “lost in the mail” claims, you could flag that patron’s record. I’m not talking rare research materials — just the ordinary, garden variety ILLs. If they have a card, you’re trusting them with your books anyway. Yet, at least in some circles, there is a tremendous amount of resistance to this concept.

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