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Mark Atwood
Wanted: A Netflix for Physical Books
The tech rumor mill has been churning for a few days about "Amazon launching a Netflix for books". While a neat concept, I'm a bit disappointed that it is for ebooks. This plays to Amazon's strengths, but is not what I have been wanting for years.

For years I have been wishing for a "Netflix for Books", for physical books.

Here is how I envision it working:

A large municipal library, or a consortium of them working together, set up a site and paid service very similar to Netflix, only for books.

I, as a user, select how many books at a time I want to rent. There would be different monthly payment levels, just like Netflix.

Books in my queue get checked out from the library or via inter library loan. They get mailed to me, along with a return mailer. Postage would be book rate, of course. Unless I am willing to pay extra for Priority or Express mail.

I read the book, keep it for as long as I want (maybe with a one year maximum), and then either return it with the return mailer or by dropping it off at the library like a regular book.

I could keep using my muni library "for free", or use this service for the convenience factor. It could even be a source of much needed funding for the amazing public library system that we all too often take for granted, and do not use enough.

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Current Location: Home, Capitol Hill, Seattle WA

5 comments or Leave a comment
zzbottom From: zzbottom Date: September 12th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are you willing to pay the postage as a separate fee from your monthly charge? The problem I see with your system is that books are widely varying in size and weight and would not fit into a uniform package like Netflix has and would not ship for the same costs, like Netflix packages do. I really don't see this working any better as a business model than a local library does.
awfief From: awfief Date: September 13th, 2011 03:55 am (UTC) (Link)
And in fact, this business model already exists, it's called www.paperbackswap.com. Sort of. It's peer-to-peer, and you can keep the books or put them back into circulation, whichever you prefer.
beamjockey From: beamjockey Date: September 12th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you know about the Fourth Class Postage rate in the U.S.? As I understand it, it got started to benefit libraries mailing books to patrons, and vice versa.

(HIGGINS exits, googling)

(HIGGINS returns)

Here is an article that will tell you more than you want to know if this is just a casual brainstorm-- but will interest you deeply if you are serious about starting the service you describe.
awfief From: awfief Date: September 13th, 2011 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
FWIW it used to be called "Library rate", now it's called "Media Mail". It can be used for books and CD's and DVD's.

You can rent books on Chegg.com these days. Also, www.paperbackswap.com (I use this for those "one-time reads".
wurtmann From: wurtmann Date: September 24th, 2011 03:51 am (UTC) (Link)
That is a good idea for me. Then I wouldn't have all of my shelves full of books to dust. Ha Ha However, it would be nice to have a photographic memory so that I could pull the text from my brain.
5 comments or Leave a comment