Once Netflix set it up to stream videos to the Wii, I was sold. Even the DVD queue shows up very quickly. I don’t watch TV that much and I have to schedule which shows I watch. Even the ones I schedule now from broadcast TV are not as interesting as shows that I had wanted to watch years ago but didn’t have time. (A teacher asked me if I watched a show that’s currently on right now. I told her there was this great show called X-Files that I found. She looked at me like I’m crazy.)
As a librarian it’s funny that I’m looking for something like Netflix but for books. We loan out books all the time – for free! I wonder if public libraries could start mailing books to people’s homes. At the junior high where I work, everything’s within walking distance, so I have an advantage over the public library.
The big difference between DVDs and books is weight. Books cost a lot more to ship. Prepaid return envelopes would be more expensive.
Some college bookstores are attempting textbook rentals. A friend of mine at ASU says that he tried renting a book and came out even. He saved as much money as he would have made re-selling the textbook to the college bookstore. That’s not always the case, like if I tried to re-sell my complete works of Shakespeare textbook. (Although it’s pretty awesome, so why would I do that?)
One site that’s catching a lot of attention is chegg.com for textbook rentals. They’ve got a great search interface and what seems like a decent selection of textbooks. That still doesn’t save you from the professor who published a book and requires you to buy that specific book. (Or worse, won’t accept the first edition because you have to buy the second edition where they added a paragraph.)
A site that looks like it is ripping off Netflix (check out their “No Late Fees” graphic…look familiar?) is booksfree.com. I don’t know if I would try it because it does look like a scam site. If anyone has had a good experience with the site, let me know.
Bookswim has different pricing plans, but all would add up very quickly to being very expensive each year.
Bookmooch is like a mix between craigslist and Weight Watchers, if that isn’t an interesting enough mental picture. You turn in books and get points to spend (like your WW calorie points) to “mooch” other books. As with craigslist, the selection is only as good as what people contribute.
For textbooks, I could see myself renting one for class. For all other books, though, I think the library still beats all other options. Now if I could get a cheap eReader with a monthly subscription with unlimited selection…that would catch my attention.