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BookFlix

Check this out: BooksFree is a service for borrowing books ala NetFlix.

What do you think? Would you find this service useful? Is the idea appealing? Is it worth the monthly fee?

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

14 Comments on BookFlix

  1. Errr…our town has one of these already, and there’s no monthly fee (other than taxes). It’s called a “library”…

  2. I was wondering if this would happen. It makes a kind of sense. The only problem with paperbacks is their size, relative to a DVD, will probably increase the cost of the pre-paid envelopes considerably. Look at the size of Cryptonomicon for instance. Its huge! (and yes they do have it available).

    Another consideration is inventory size. DVDs are smaller and much thinner and so will take up a lot less room than books. BooksForFree claims over 18,000 titles in stock. That is a small number when compared to all the books that have been published, even in recent times. I see that their selection of Iain M Banks novels is limited to one, Look to Windward.

    And as Fred noted, most places already have a new fangled ‘library’ service with a more generous check-out policy but with late fees. And taxes. But would you pay more to get books by mail if you could find them online but not at your library? I wouldn’t.

    I would ransack John’s stash first, then make him go find the book for me. But that’s just me….

  3. Personally, I am not the book-borrowing type. I would rather own a book so I have a keepsake. But that’s just my own illogical “book trophy” desires shining through. Therefore, it’s hard for me to imagine using either a library or BooksFree. The latter claims to be better than a library because of better selection, availablity, etc. Ummm…OK. I guess that justifies the $8 – $30 per month fee.

    Maybe I should start my own local (sorry, Fred) book-lending service to subsidize my bibliophilia. I could charge a buck or two per book. Of course, I would anal-retentively make the borowers promise not to crack the spine of my cherished used mass-market paperbacks – and then insist on a deposit for the book, just in case. Two forms of picture ID would necessarily be required to stave off theft attempts from so-called “friends”.

    On second thought, maybe I’ll just leave the book borrowing to libraries.

  4. I have tendencies to go out and buy books that I want to read since I can then share the book with friends who have similar interests. But after borrowing children’s books for my son for well over 2 years – I have changed my tune.

    Seriously John, you should consider it – Houston has an excellent library system and you can reserve books and read them or even preview them prior to an actual purchase which would help your angst from buying that other novel…

  5. For John, there are two main problems associated with libraries:

    1. Its easy to find a book. Go to card catalog, look up convenient number (thanks Dewey!) and go find it. It takes the thrill away of finding a book.

    2. What would he do with all those Half-Price Books 15% off coupons?

  6. I guess I missed the 18k book reference. I wonder how many of my personal collection of some 7k books it overlaps?

    Yep, I’m in a ten step program. “Hello, my name is Fred. I’m a bookaholic!”

  7. Hi Fred! Meet John, he’s the resident bookobsessiveholic. He’s a mini-bookfree just by himself!

  8. I would deny that remark…if I weren’t so busy trying to catch up on all my reading…

  9. Hey, I resemble that remark!

    The two worst things about being laid off (other than the lack of salary!):

    (1) That quad espresso is no longer so accessible!

    (2) The 3-hours a day I spent commuting means that I now read a lot less since I don’t commute. Go figure. Who knew taking care of a 5 year old was so complicated!

  10. Heh, I’m there with you Fred. I have two boys, 7 and 4, and the only time I get to read is at night before going to bed. I’m usually so tired that I fall asleep rather quickly. That’s why it took me a month to Quicksilver….

  11. A. Colin Flood // April 6, 2004 at 1:58 pm //

    love the idea, which is how Google found this page, but books would have to be easy to ship, which means maybe they would have to be downloaded to Adobe PDF files first, NOT a problem if several large publishers get behind the idea ? all new books could be distilled into PDFs and mailed, ala NetFlix

  12. The PDF thing opens up a whole can of (book)worms. I’m not sure that there are that many people who actually would want to read a book on their laptop/PDA at the moment. Now, when the electronic paper thing kicks in, and you can download a book into it, then you’ve got something.

    I’m not really familiar with PDF and its licensing abilities so I’m now sure how easy it is to keep people from making copies, printing them and sending them around, etc. Could be a stumbling block.

  13. I’ve noticed a reference about them advertising 18,000 titles and that being a bit small. However if you visit the homepage they are advertising over 88,000 titles available. That’s a huge difference from what’s being said here! But, yes I prefer the library also.

  14. Just wanted to tell everyone about a book rental service called BookSwim.com that rents out hardcovers as well as paperbacks. It is a newer company and has a selection of 150,000 titles to rent. Books are delivered to your house and when finished, just throw them in the mailbox to send back. All postage is paid by the company so it’s free to you.

    http://www.bookswim.com

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