I was once asked, “Why isn’t there a service out there like Netflix, but for books?” One obvious answer is, “because it’s a heck of a lot more expensive to ship books than it is to ship a DVD.” It got me to thinking though…
Why not create some sort of a regional, Netflix-like program? What if you could pay your local bookstore $x/month for the ability to borrow books from them, read them at your leisure and then return them for more down the road? Part of this depends on how much “x” is, of course.
I know, you’re thinking, “we already have something like this and it’s called ‘the library’.” Not quite. The local library typically has only one copy of any given book and quite often, it’s checked out.
B&N and Borders aren’t likely to do this anytime soon, but why wouldn’t an organization like Half Price Books? After all, they’re sitting on a load of inventory at every store, waiting for someone to come in and buy a copy then return to sell it for a fraction of the original price later. They’ve typically got multiple copies of a given book, so you don’t face the checked-out problem you find at the library.
Rather than let all that inventory sit while waiting for a buyer, why not loan it out for a monthly fee and generate more in-store traffic? I’d certainly consider the service for $10 or $20/month.