Why Rent Books For Free When You Can Pay For Them Instead?

In the category of “what a waste of money“, a company has come out with a book rental service that acts like Netflix, except for 2 things – 1. It costs more money and 2. I already have a place I rent books from – it’s called the library. And the library lets me borrow all their books, way more than a few at a time, for weeks on end for absolutely no cost at all. Sure, they have movies too – but only a few. But one thing they have plenty of is books!

Bookswim.com is the company that has come out with this service, and I guess maybe I am missing the point. Why would I pay at least $14.99 a month to rent 2 books when I can pay nothing and rent 10? Besides, even if I were to buy paperback books instead of renting them, I would spend about the same amount – but I would own the book afterward.

There are subscription services worth money, and then there are ones like this. Maybe, just maybe, if you live in the middle of nowhere and don’t have a library within 30 miles of you, this might work. If I am wrong, could someone tell me what I am missing here?

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Comments (15)

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  1. Steve says:

    I have to be honest, our local library is so awful I might consider a service like this. Our local library has terrible hours, practically no books published after 1980 and zero “other media” loaners (DVDs, etc.)

    And many new paperbacks cost a lot more than $7.50 (trade paperbacks, etc.) so it probably makes more sense than buying (plus it avoids cluttering up your home).

    So I can see that a service like that might appeal to SOME people. If you have a decent library nearby, though, you’d be insane to do this.

  2. Annie Jones says:

    If you’ve missed something, then apparently I have, too.

  3. Slinky says:

    I think the only benefit here is keeping the books as long as you want with no late fees. Which is definitely nice, but not worth the fee.

    I’m an avid reader who will read a book over many, many times if I like it. So I usually check out new authors or series by borrowing from a friend or getting it from the library. After that if I like it, I’ll buy it. My favorite books I’ve (without exaggeration) read at least 20 times.

  4. david says:

    Well, you don’t really get to keep them as long as you want with “no” fee… you still have to pay the next month’s fee of at least $14.95. So, to keep a book longer than 4 weeks, you will pay $30.

  5. Kitty says:

    I have to admit that this is my financial downfall. I travel a LOT for business and for extended periods of time (like 6 or 11 months). I read a lot – voraciously you might say – and got sick of filling my suitcase with paperbacks and so last March I bought a kindle strictly for travel. But I love it so much it is the only way I read now. I am spending about $60 per month to download books. It is my one guilty pleasure.

  6. Gypsie says:

    My library is tiny and has a terrible selection. They dont carry any books by about 75% of the authors that i like. And as for the “rental” service by book swim, you get as many books as you can read in that one month time frame, you just get them two at a time. I have seriously considered signing up because while i am an avid reader, there are only a few books that i end up rereading over and over again. Plus, I hate my library!

  7. Craig says:

    I just bought the latest James Patterson for like $30 bucks from BN and I see it’s available from the bookswim website.

    Don’t I now feel gypped. So guess what?? I signed up.

    So I’ll get my $30 books when they come fresh off the press, thank you bookswim. 3 of them actually, and it’ll cost me less than one book alone.

    so are you SURE you did the math?

  8. Michaela says:

    I am so glad other’s think their libraries are less than satisfactory. I was having terrible guilt feelings about not using my library because of the lack of services.
    I personally, wouldn’t use the service, but I have so many books I haven’t read, i could start a library.
    I buy used books at sales for ten cents and a quarter. I buy one or two new books a year, with gift cards.

  9. david says:

    Yes, I did the math correctly for me, as I don’t enjoy wasting money on things I can get for cheaper or even for free. My library has books for free, and bookswim wants to charge $19.98 to rent 3 books out at a time. If you don’t finish those books, you still have to pay another $19.98 for the next month. And even if my library didn’t have the books I want, I would either buy them from Amazon.com or half.com for cheaper, or just wait and buy the paperback version for 1/3 of the cost of the hardcover.

    Either way, paying $20 a month to borrow a few books that I don’t own seems like a total waste of money for me.

  10. So I have a confession to make. My library is the local Borders. If you want to “check out” a book you just buy it and return it within 30 days. Provided you don’t mark it up or damage it you will have no problem bringing it back. Borders has way more current selections than my local library in a much better atmosphere. Plus, their books are new.
    Admittedly, though, I have a slight tinge of guilt over doing this and rarely do it anymore. Is this practice wrong?

  11. Patrick says:

    I saw the same thing, and immediately decided it wasn’t for me. We have an excellent library system. I could only see this being an option if you lived in a remote location, but still had mail access.

  12. MK says:

    To people with bad libraries, I recommend http://www.bookmooch.com. There are similar other services as well.

    This does not seem like a good business idea to me.

  13. Michelle says:

    I had the exact reaction when I saw bookswim. The library is awesome. to those who don’t like their local library, talk to the librarians, ask if they could purchase the books you are looking for. We will take requests from folks. You could also use interlibrary loan to request an item.

  14. Nick Laborde says:

    I have to agree with others, it depends on how good your local library is.

    If there was a service like that for audio books I would jump right on it…maybe there is.

  15. Mercedes says:

    I think renting books online is a great idea. I am currently a college student and the books I need for class are so expensive at the campus bookstore. I will not use them after I am finish with my class. So why waste money for a book that cost $100 when I can rent it for $30. Then the bookstore try to buy the book back for not even half the price. Whats-up with that?