Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bookswim: Rent books Netflix Style

One day sitting in the train with my normal 2 hour commute to work still ahead of me, I wondered if there was such a thing as book rentals program, like how there was Netflix for DVDs. After a quick Google search, I came across this site,

It seemed like a promising idea. And immediately signed up for an devout reader account. Under the devout reader account plan I am allowed to have out 11 books for roughly $60 a month [ a bit steep! - Click here for pricing for other plans ] I have to return 6 books in each package to get my next shipment. Free shipping is included both ways, along with no late fees or due dates like Netflix

The program itself is promising, but it had some big flaws that which I am debating  whether or not to cancel my subscription before the renewal date.  A bit more on the website, there is a database in which available to search for books. I personally, didn't like the layout on searching for books. It was messy and very hard to navigate. Even though, the company boasted thousands of books available,  it didn't seem like a big selection was available when I first skimmed through for my book selections. They might have more books available, but it could have been that terrible navigation which made it very difficult to find more books. 

Bookswim has this reccommendation feature very close to Netflix's "Movie you will love", but Bookswim's version is nowhere as good or accurate as Netflix's version. Their reccomendation feature kept reccommending books I already had in my pool [think of it as a queue], or books that I had no interest in. I mostly added new book releases since they didn't have that wide of a selection in classics. Instead of getting more new book releases, I kept getting recommendations for children's book, which I had none of in my queue nor did I read any of their summaries. 

Another negative, is that when I added the books to my pool I already put the books in the order in which I wanted to read them. When they shipped my first shipment, it sent my books in a complete fumbled order! I put the entire Sookie Stackhouse in numeric order and instead got book 1, 4, 6 and 10. I got an email couple of days later asking to pick the books I wanted for my next shipment for them to put aside, so when they got my return package they can mail those out [a nice feature, which guarantees the availability of the books in top of your pool]. And boy did they do the same crap again, this time I got every book in the collection except book 3. Keep in mind, under the plan I have, I must return at least 6 books to get my next shipment.  I reordered my pool and hopefully this time it stays that way!

If you wondering, they do ship out books in mediocre speed. I guess if you pay the expedited shipping option you would get your books more faster [which is total rip!] I took them a whole week for them to process my return shipment [and when I checked the tracking number for my shipment, it said no one was there to accept my can no one bookswim accept my package??] and send out my new package. They do by the way, provide free shipping both ways and provide the shipping bag to send back the books. But the first mailer they sent me was to big for the books I sent back since it was mostly paperbacks I had ordered, but the second mailer [apparently the mailer does come in different sizes] is too small for all the hardcover books I ordered. I wonder how do they choose which size mailer to send to you with your shipment.

I believe do Bookswim, is a good program but it has many flaws that needs to be addressed. I think the book rental might be good for people who don't live near any bookstores or libraries. I might continue my subscription, but I believe the rental fee is a bit to high. Here in NYC, there is this awesome bookstore called Strand, where you can get second hand books as cheap as fifty cents and brand new books very deeply discounted. If you are wondering, most of the books are were very used and some seem to be recycle from libraries [with library seals still attached -- I wonder if it was stolen?]. If you really do like the book, you do have the option of buying the book as well at a discounted price.
My first shipment

PS: If you are interested in joining, get your first month under any plan for only $9.95. Enter code 'allplans995'


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