Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bookswim – a library for the rich and lazy

Every once in a while an idea comes along that takes advantage of Americans propensity to be incredibly lazy. First there were fast foods. Then there was pizza delivery, then Netflix DVD delivery and PeaPod grocery delivery, and so on. I get the impression from TV commercials that that most Americans are beer guzzling or bon-bon eating creatures far to fat to get out of their Barcaloungers.

This vision of America doesn’t include a high level of literacy. Indeed I would guess that the average household today doesn’t have more than 2 or 3 books, gifts probably. I’ve been in houses where no books were in evidence. Five hundred years ago Shakespeare made a go of live performances because books were so expensive and the populous illiterate. One hundred years ago books were cheep and authors made the rounds of Vaudeville halls as Pop superstars. Those days are gone and the mind numbing effects of TV have created a population that views the production of the daily tabloid as a literary achievement.

Into this dubious world enters an online company called that claims, “what netflix did for movies bookswim will do for books.” It’s a Netflix for books. Bookswim is a cross between a book club and an online library. Yes, the business model has you renting books. Of course they have all the most popular books, novels, non-fiction, hardcovers and paperbacks. They don’t have any of my books (I looked) but they do have books written by my cousin ( with a handy pointer to if you’d rather buy the book than rent it. You can probably ask for books to be included. I’ll ask them to stock everything I ever wrote. That ought to double my sales.

For $20 (actually $19.99 but who’s counting) you get to order three out of a library of 150,000 titles and if it’s in stock they will mail it to you immediately with a postage paid mail-back envelope … just like Netflix. You get to keep the books as long as you want and for $20 a month they would love you to keep them forever. Mail back a book and they’ll mail you another.

What a wonderfully clever idea you might be saying until I remind you that the public library is FREE and mine delivers.

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