Books Free is NOT Netflix for Books ...

I’ve wrote last month about what a fan I am of Netflix. It’s just so easy to use when you’re traveling.

A few days ago I read about a new service that was offering a similar program, only with books. I was very interested, because I’m a big reader, averaging a couple books a week. Some years ago I had to swear off buying books, because it was just getting too expensive. Since then, I’ve become a big user of my local public library, but sometimes it takes months to get a best seller. Additionally, packing around a hardback book, or two or three, when you’re traveling can get cumbersome and heavy.

So, I was really interested to check out Books Free, and motivated to consider trying out the service. Here are the basics:

For one monthly fee, ranging from $8.49/month for two books at a time, to $34.99/month for 12 books at a time, you can read unlimited books in the month. The books are mailed to you, with a postage paid return mailer. So far, so good. Very much like Netflix, and then I wouldn’t have the inconvenience of having to get to the library, or to have to wait for things to come in. The pricing, at the lower end at least, is about the same as the cost of a paperback book.

How about the selection? I looked over my request list at the library, and all the books I wanted were available. Okay, still looking good. I was ready to check out the rest of the info, and sign up.

But wait — there’s some fine print that needs to be taken into account. Oh no! This is where it diverges from the Netflix operation model, and it’s looking much less attractive than I had originally thought. Here are two big negatives that I discovered in the fine print:

• The books are mailed to customers via US Postal Service, Media Class, which means that it will take 7-10 business days to get to me on the West Coast. WHAT??? Do the math — with those books being mailed both ways, no matter how quickly I may finish reading the book, the definition of “unlimited” books in a month is severely curtailed by mail time.
• The books are shipped two and a time and must be returned two at a time. I have to finish reading both books before they’ll send me another one. So I can’t finish one book, send it back, and read the second one while I’m waiting for a new arrival. That further cuts down the definition of “unlimited.” It also means that I can’t finish a book on the road and mail it back, lightening my load as I travel, and having another book waiting for me when I get home.

This isn’t sounding so convenient at all. Books Free is not only NOT FREE, it’s sounding expensive, and most of all inconvenient.

My enthusiasm has waned. I’m back to the waiting list at my public library.

Photo credit: flickr


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