If you aren't sure which books to give that avid reader on your gift list this holiday season, how about considering every title she could name?
BookSwim, an online book rental and delivery service, offers gift subscriptions that can help expand the amount of reading you can give, without running up a big tab or cluttering up someone's home with another stack of books.
The Web site, http://www.BookSwim.com, lets readers order books and have them delivered right to their door for a set fee each month. Modeled on the online movie rental company Netflix, the subscription service sends between three and 11 books at a time to its customers, who can keep them for as long as they like with no late fees. When finished with at least two books, the reader sends them back to BookSwim in a pre-paid return bag that's included with every shipment.
BookSwim offers four different membership levels, with prices ranging from $19.98 per month for their "light reader" three-at-a-time plan to $39.94 per month for the "voracious reader" 11-at-a-time plan. Their most popular plan, which allows users to have up to 7 books at a time, costs $29.96 per month, with a $1.50 per month discount for a full year paid in advance. The company offers a half-price discount to new members for the first month.
The Newark, N.J.-based company, was launched in May 2007 and shipped its 100,000th book in early October, said marketing director Eric Ginsberg.
BookSwim has customers from New York City to Alaska, and Ginsberg said it appeals to city dwellers who like the convenience of having the books delivered and to rural residents with little access to public libraries or major bookstores. "We thought when we started the service we would get a lot more rural than urban, but what we got was a good mix," Ginsberg said. "People want conveniences, they want things to come to them."
Readers who decide they can't part with a book also have the opportunity to buy it from BookSwim, with the price calculated based on the age of the book and the number of times it has been lent out, Ginsberg said. He said about one-third of the books sent out are new.
If you're considering giving a gift, you can buy a trial membership for a specific plan for as short as one month. A trial may be best suited for a family of readers on your shopping list, since three books at $19.98 a month may be too steep for many readers. The company doesn't offer a one book rental plan, because it's more cost efficient to ship multiple books.