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More on BookSwim

Joe Wikert has an interview with George Burke, the man behind BookSwim (A Netflix type service for books):

JW: Approximately how many books will be available to choose from at launch?  Will they be from all areas (e.g., business, novels, etc.) or just certain categories?

GB: Most in-print leisure reading books (fiction and non-fiction) will be available to rent.  In fact, a few out of print titles too! Our catalog will be quite extensive, but extremely specialized books that maybe only 2 human beings might want, like Bavarian Architecture of the 1600s or Diabetic Vegan Cooking Recipes, are excluded from our catalog.  However, should enough people request a title, we’ll include it in the catalog because we have no clue what’s going to get rented – so we let the people decide for themselves.

JW: Have you determined what the monthly/annual membership fee will be?

GB: We’re going to have a 3-book plan starting at about $15/month that allows unlimited rentals that allows for 3 books in-hand, ranging all the way to an 11-book plan for the fanatical reading insomniacs (and families).  We also offer a Free Trial Account that allows timid, indecisive people to try out the BookSwim interface.

JW: Do you have any projections for the number of customers you expect to sign up in the first year or two?

GB: Without giving away our specific projection numbers, our first year of operations for our BETA release will have very low membership rates as we perfect the rental model and continue to cut down costs.  But we’ll explode in year 2 as we revolutionize the way America reads.

JW: Will there be any other perks for members?

GB: It stinks when readers have to return a library book that they’ve fallen in love with, so we’ve added the ability to purchase any rental at a discounted price.  Currently users can also hook up with readers of similar literary taste and get book ideas from each others’ rental queues.  In the future we also aim to provide users with a golden recommendation system, along with a way for members to discuss the books they’ve read.

Will readers use it?  Sure, why not?  3 books at a time for unlimited rentals sounds like more than enought for me.  Heck, I even get books delivered to my home, which is more than I can say about my local library.  Plus, the selection is better.  This is kind of like having an interlibrary loan service but cutting out the middle man.  Smart.  And scary for libraries.

8 Responses to “More on BookSwim”

  1. walt crawford
    March 2, 2007 at 10:54 am #

    Why scary for libraries? Netflix doesn’t seem to have eliminated DVD circulation in libraries. Our local library is very well funded, but I sure don’t pay $360 ($15/month for Bookswim and another $15/month for Netflix) for library services–which, of course, include a lot besides books and DVDs.

    It’s rarely either/or.

  2. Nat-Wu
    March 5, 2007 at 11:24 am #

    It’s not really a threat to libraries. I work at one, and this is more of a complementary service than competitive. A lot (and I mean almost all) of our users are people who aren’t really willing or able to pay for any kind of service. Like Walt Crawford says, Netflix has posed no challenge to the circulation of dvds in the library. $15 a month isn’t cheap enough to lure away any great portion of our users (I know, they’re either really cheap or really poor), and the target audience for Bookswim aren’t the people who come in here to get 25 books for a school project or easy readers for their children. They want that many all at once, but they don’t want them for an unlimited period.

    Their target audience may use Bookswim and still come in here because those are the people who put the new releases on hold, and they’ll use both to get their books as quickly as possible. I doubt Bookswim will be able to accomodate the great demand for new James Pattersons, Patricia Cornwells, Nora Roberts, etc, etc, in order to put a copy in the hand of every user.

    And of course, we do carry many rarer or more esoteric titles, at least to use on-site. Our services are far from being limited to lending a few books. I like the sound of this service. It’s probably a better way to read those sci-fi fantasy titles we don’t buy at the library, or keep up with series which we don’t complete. More expensive than inter-library loan (which is free), but also quicker, probably more reliable, and not subject to so many restrictions.

  3. Mike Malinari
    March 22, 2007 at 1:26 pm #


    There already is a company doing this BooksFree at

  4. Todd
    March 27, 2007 at 9:14 pm #

    nobody’s going to pay $15/month for this. People can share books through some great services now…for FREE. Like

  5. Shamoon Siddiqui
    April 28, 2007 at 1:30 pm #

    Hello all,
    Booksfree has been at this game for a while now, but we feel that the market can support BookSwim as well. There are SEVERAL services available to consumers that want reading material without paying too much for it and we encourage readers to use them all to figure out which best suit their needs.
    We are just ONE option of many.


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  2. Ross Notes » Interview: Shamoon Siddiqui of Bookswim, “Netflix for Books” - March 7, 2007

    […] George and Shamoon have been doing what amounts to a blog press tour, check out other interviews at Library Stuff and Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 […]

  3. out of print - July 20, 2007

    out of print…

    Thanks ……

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