Libraries, Netflix & BookSwim

BookSwim (Yet another service that chips away at libraries)

Jeff up in TC alerts me to this post at

How I Would Run a Library System:

In a word: Netflix. The queue system is a perfect fit for books, maybe even a better fit than it is for movies. People will pay money for this service(perhaps not $20 a month).

Removing unpopular books from shelves isn’t such a bad idea, but keep them somewhere, available for circulation.

Stick a URL on the inside cover of every book that goes to an online discussion board for that book.

Either after check-in or a week after check-out, email the patron an invitation to that discussion.

If a discussion reaches a certain membership or activity threshold, make it easy to “graduate” to an in-person discussion, managing the reservation of a table or room at a particular branch.

Yes indeed! I love the idea of sticking the URL in the book. That could go for all types of materials as well. Check out the article Ross refers to as well for a look at how one library is weeding and making the news.

And then a comment on that post:

Interesting you mention this., an online library that allows members to rent unlimited books on a monthly-membership basis, is about to launch in February 2007. We will offer books with no due dates, no late fees, and no shipping charges. BookSwim is a sort of “Netflix for books.” You mentioned printing a URL inside a book to go to a discussion site — that’s a brilliant idea. Wish we’d thought of it!

Add this to Starbucks book clubs, wifi, and music sales, iTunes movie downloads and “third place” contenders like the aforementioned Starbucks or Panera Bread and you have a whole bunch of services, physical spaces and web sites competing for what libraries used to have a hold on. Frankly, if a site like BookSwim flies, we need to be very aware and plan accordingly. I hope some of those innovating libraries out there are working on a Netflix model and that they will share it openly ASAP.

This troubles me. In fact let’s look at the big picture of the last few days in notable news:

A library CLOSES to prevent young people from being rowdy

A site LAUNCHES soon that duplicates the successful Netflix model for the library “brand” – BOOKS!

What do these two events forecast for the future of libraries folks?