Can you rent/borrow books online anywhere?
July 1, 2008 8:32 PM   Subscribe

We have Netflix and Gamefly. I want to know if there is a Netbooks or Bookfly equivalent?

I love books. I have way too many books. I like libraries, but they never have what I want when I want to read it. Is there a book based service like Netflix or Gamefly? I know it would be more expensive, as books are heavier, but I would like to check out whatever is out there.
posted by slavlin to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
does your city have inter-library lending? It's not that far off: you put a hold on the book online, and they deliver it for pickup at your local branch. I haven't actually gone into the stacks in a while. I don't know where you are, but the Los Angeles library system has just about whatever you would want.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:41 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:46 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Huh, I guess so (would not have guessed it). I guess the real question is whether anyone has tried Bookswim or Booksfree (sorry, I haven't). Seems like there are even more options with audiobooks.

One other thing I'd ask is whether you've really familiarized yourself with your library system's interlibrary loan, holds and requests policies, and online resources. How advanced things are depends on where you live, but in a lot of cases you can reserve new releases ahead of time, for example, keep a queue of requested books, and get books shipped to your local library from any other library in the system (even smaller cities often form interlibrary loan networks with surrounding communities), and you may even be able to do it all online. I bet if you asked a librarian what to do about your "never have what you want when you want to read it" problem you would hear a lot of options to improve it.

If you try any of these services please follow up with a review!
posted by nanojath at 8:53 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I always thought that the reason there was no Netbooks was the cost of shipping a book would make the service expensive.
posted by Airhen at 8:56 PM on July 1, 2008

Heartily N'thing online book holds/reserves and interlibrary loans from your public library system. Your tax dollars at work!
posted by Quietgal at 8:59 PM on July 1, 2008

Second n'thing of ILL. I work in an academic library and, through WorldCat, have gotten everything from Nikki Sixx's "Heroin Diaries" to season 3 DVDs of "Reno 911".
posted by codswallop at 9:02 PM on July 1, 2008

I always thought that the reason there was no Netbooks was the cost of shipping a book would make the service expensive.

I think the real reason is that your public library already does this, and for free.

That's how my local interlibrary loan works -- I find the book I want, I place the request on my computer, and they send me an email when it gets in, sometimes in just a day or two. The only difference from Netflix is that it is free and I have to go down and pick it up in person.
posted by Forktine at 9:05 PM on July 1, 2008

My wife and I both use PaperBackSwap. I've sent out 98 books and recieved 100 since joining in December 2006. My wife has gotten more than 300.
posted by fings at 9:08 PM on July 1, 2008

I use Bookswim and Booksfree and I like them both. It saves me from having to buy books that I want to read, but don't want to own and it saves me from the eternal late fees I'm always racking up at the library. Somehow mailing books back is easier than making it to the library on a schedule.

The selections for both clubs aren't fantastic, but they're fairly good. I buy significantly less junk books now. Neither service is anywhere near as quick as Netflix. On average, it takes about two and half weeks between the time I mail my books back and get my new package.
posted by gt2 at 9:28 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

I sometimes buy books I want on used (and sell ones I don't like back). Also, err, the library is free.
posted by meta_eli at 9:31 PM on July 1, 2008

My mum swears by bookmooch.
posted by lalochezia at 12:49 AM on July 2, 2008

I used booksfree probably about five years ago. I liked the service but was disappointed in the selection, although that could very well have changed in the intervening years. Probably worth checking out.

I enjoy PaperBackSwap too, and I've found the selection a little better.
posted by Stacey at 3:38 AM on July 2, 2008

Another voice for the ILL crowd. Most libraries have some kind of loan policy and if you live near a college or university, you can usually get a "Friends" membership for a small fee that'll entitle you to access their ILL catalogs. You can literally get nearly anything you could imagine. I always came up with a few gaps. but 99% of my queries had a book to me within the week.
posted by GilloD at 6:42 AM on July 2, 2008

Beware of I've been trying it out the past two months and am not very happy with it.


They have a fairly decent fiction catalog but seem to have only a few copies of each book.
Their shipping and receiving are extremely slow.
If you have the 2 at a time or 3 at a time plan you have to send all books back at once. They don't let you read one send it back and begin the second. Which is what they really need to do to alleviate their poor return times.

All this being said.. I wish Netflix would consider a book division.
posted by huxley at 7:14 AM on July 2, 2008

That's how my local interlibrary loan works -- I find the book I want, I place the request on my computer, and they send me an email when it gets in, sometimes in just a day or two. The only difference from Netflix is that it is free and I have to go down and pick it up in person.

Funny, here's how the Inter-Library Loan process works in my city (which is a major urban center):

1) Check the web site to see if a book is available. The listing for the book appears. The library has multiple copies. The copies are labeled:

MISSING -- the book has not been returned.
DUE M/D/Y -- the book is due on a particular date. These dates are usually in the past. After a couple of years, it will be marked MISSING.
CHECK SHELF -- this also means that the book is MISSING.

2) Use the online form to enter your library card, the book, and the branch you want the book to go to.
3) Nothing happens. Wait several months.
4) You notice that a book is now listed as CHECK SHELF at a local branch. Having lost faith in the ILL process, you try to visit that branch, but it is closed for the weekend to a local festival.
5) You run to that branch on the Thursday it's actually open past 6pm, push through the barren shelves, and notice that the last remaining books are Alvin Toffler's Future Shock and a Sweet Valley High book from the 80s. The book is not on the shelf. The librarian shrugs and changes its status to MISSING.
6) You go home and order the book used off of Amazon for $.01 plus shipping.

I'm sure other people have library systems that actually work, but please don't assume the poster is insane for wanting to use a commercial lender as an alternative. I'd be interested in a functional alternative to my local library myself.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 9:02 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm a BookSwim member and fairly happy with the service. delivery times seem to be affected by where you are in relation to their NJ warehouse. I'm neraby and usually get new books about 8 days after shipping out old ones. They are definitely in a "beta" stage but improving by leaps and bounds.
posted by AuntLisa at 10:43 AM on July 2, 2008

BookCrossing - you can join bookrings and rays to read books others are reading or going to read, swap books with people, all sorts...
posted by LyzzyBee at 12:15 PM on July 2, 2008

I have used paperbackswap for a couple months now and have been pleasantly surprised how well it works.
posted by CwgrlUp at 3:53 PM on July 2, 2008

I live in an area where the library system is adequate, but at times they don't have books I want to read. And the closest other library system is a good hour away. This is what I did/do:

I like Bookmooch, but it seems that I'm always late to the game - someone else always beats me to the book. And yes, Paperbackswap does have a wider selection, probably more members too.

I haven't used either service for a while now. These days I buy used books from Amazon or Half - popular (or formerly popular) books tend to be priced below five dollars. As for new releases, I buy them either used or new, read, then resell them on the same websites.
posted by Xere at 8:54 PM on July 2, 2008

I loved ILL when it was free but around here the public library now charges $5 per each book requested. I've found that Paperbackswap is cheaper than that so that's the way I go these days.
posted by daneflute at 11:30 PM on July 3, 2008

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