Innovation That Matters

Book lending made convenient

Publishing & Media

You know a model is a good one when it gets copied far and wide, and one of the best examples today is Netflix. We’ve recently written about the Netflix model being applied to toys and textbooks, and now a few new contenders are applying it to popular books. Avid readers are no doubt familiar with what Paperspine calls BCS—Book Clutter Syndrome, in which stacks of already-read books collect dust and clutter up the house. In the hopes of reducing consumers’ BCS, Paperspine offers a way for them to develop a list of books they want to read, keep each one as long as they want, and then return them in a postage-paid envelope and get the next one sent out. Monthly fees range from USD 9.95 with a shipping fee of USD 1.49 per book and a maximum of two books at a time, all the way up to USD 24.95 per month with free shipping and a maximum of five books at a time. Issaquah, Wash.-based Paperspine, which launched late last year and is still in beta, was cofounded by ex-Microsofter Dustin Hubbard. More than 150,000 titles are available through the service. Bookswim, meanwhile, launched about a year ago on much the same idea. Offering more than 200,000 titles, Aberdeen, N.J.-based Bookswim’s monthly fees range from USD 14.99 for two books at a time all the way up to USD 35.99 for 11 books at a time. Bookswim hopes to rent out a million books by 2010, representing what it estimates would amount to USD 22,070,000 in subscriber savings over the cost of purchasing those books at list price. Recognizing that 20 million trees are felled each year for American book production, the company also has a partnership with to plant a tree for each gift card it sells. Like book-swapping sites, which have been around for a while, these two start-ups are providing an alternative both to buying books, and to borrowing from a public library. Both are good examples of the transumers trend, catering to consumers who are more interested in using/experiencing than in owning. Paperspine and Bookswim cover just the US. One to roll out in the country of your choice! Spotted by: Bill McMahon




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