Friday, March 02, 2007

New Competition for the Public Library?

Libraries now have another source of competition. In addition to bookstores, libraries must now compete for patrons with a new internet book rental service called "Bookswim." Patterned after Netflix, the popular movie rental program, Bookswim will charge a monthly fee and supply a stream of books to the customer. As additional enticement, Bookswim bears all costs of shipping, and there is no time limit imposed to return a book.

Several different programs are available, covering people who read only a book or two each month to those who read many, or for a family of readers to pay a single fee for all members combined.

Bookswim claims not to be in direct competition with libraries. In fact, it offers a program to libraries which Bookswim claims will alleviate the not infrequent problem when a rush of requests for a particular item exceeds the inventory in the library.

I am inclined to think that if this new book rental program survives and thrives, that it will be a bigger threat to the large booksellers than to the public libraries. After all, it is hard to compete with free! Should be interesting!

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