Body + Soul Magazine Promotes BookSwim as "Easier" Than Library

Ouch. In the May 2009 issue of Body + Soul magazine--"A Martha Stewart Publication"--"renting a book" via BookSwim is #1 on a list of "6 Simple Ways to Better Your Life and the Planet."

The magazine copy reads, "Looking for a good read? Try renting books Netflix-style with It's easier than going to the library and greener than buying from the store. Log on and have your picks delivered to your door in recycled packaging."


.. uh oh, some libraries do charge $200 a year through local taxes... we're screwed... (Bookswim charges $20-$30/mo).

Bookswim would be $20-$30 a month on top of that. Might as well use what you're paying for anyway.

I hate to say it, but in my case, BookSwim might indeed be easier even with the cost. The public library here in Backwater Rural County is simply atrocious in terms of selection. Were it not for interlibrary loan at the small college I work at, I would not have too many options for reading. So, if we want to get picky, I could ask what the hell they are doing with my taxes, because they sure as heck are not buying any new or current books (and the ones they do have are falling apart).

It might be, especially in a small rural system, that their budget is being spent on unnecessary frills like electricity, heating, water, sewage, maintenance, and other utilities. And possibly staff salaries; the people who work there are probably not all volunteers.

You know, other stuff the library needs besides books.

You may find that your taxes for the library need to be *increased*. The cost of the increase could, if spread out over all the population in your area, still be less than a subscription to something like Bookswim.

Or you could try to get a fundraising drive started for the library for donations toward a book budget.

If you want to know where your tax dollars are going in the library ask. It is public information and they will have a copy of where every dollar is spent. Offer to volunteer at the library and bring a friend.
Learn how you can help to make it a better library for your community.

In the state I am employed as a librarian, the libraries receive an average of $18.00 per person in funding (e.g. tax dollars). That may seem a lot, but the population is shrinking, about 1.5 million the last census. After paying the necessities, monthly bills and people, libraries spend an average of $2.44 new materials. The average age of a library collection is dated in the 1970s. That measly material budget does not keep the libraries from providing me with unlimited books—taking in consideration interlibrary loans—as well as access to audiobooks in different forms, cassette tapes, CDs, and MP3s. So, I may need to wait a few days or weeks for the library to get me an item from another library, be placed on a hold list, or told it is being reordered, so what? I cannot buy books or purchase plans from BookSwim and for that price.

To improve libraries, we should not be flocking to these sites but to the libraries. To help improve these dying staples of our freedom, go to your public library. Volunteer. Join the friends group or if there is not one start it. Ask about the library’s “wish list”. Don’t have one, start one. Speak with local officials, who control the library budget, better yet, have the librarians and library board there speaking as to how the community is a better place due to the library.

It looks like BookSwim is rather as limited in the books you can rent as many large bookstores are. I entered in a few titles that I have had to order online through and BookSwim did not carry them.

In fact, so far I have not been able to locate a single book that I might choose read on BookSwim, and I have entered a good 20 titles in so far. Most of them were available at my local library system which is really not all that large or have all that great a collection, and those that were not were available through interlibrary loan.

These sort of services generally offer the same sort of best sellers that libraries rent in large quantities, because they are made a bit more cheaply and fall apart after a certain number of "circulations"

I entered several authors, like Peter S. Beagle, just to check this out, and nothing came up

I guess the part that comes in here is marketing and sales -- ok, you are "renting" the book but you are paying for the service per use based on the titles they have purchased -- it's like leasing a car rather than buying -- but the library still has a deeper selection-and information on topics you will never, ever see in bookswim -- and free clean, public restrooms! do they serve cookies at their book group meetings?

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