What are they doing right?

Recently on Facebook, a friend wrote a brief note about Bookswim and how it was silly that someone would pay for the service when they could just go to the library and get the same service for free.

I wrote back a note response and said “But pay-for book services are very popular at truck stops and airports across the country.  As much as we don’t like it, Bookswim is doing something we are not.  We need to figure out what is making them successful and see if we can’t manage to offer the same service.  It’s called market segmentation.”

Her response was “All they offer that we don’t is delivery”.

This brings up two points.  Bookswim and those services that I see as I drive and fly across the country are offering more than delivery.**  But we quickly slam the competition because we’re too afraid as a profession to take a real look at our short comings.   We need to take a deep breath and realize that it’s okay to take a hard look at what these other offerings bring to the information table.

Secondly, it is not realistic for us to try to do some of the things Bookswim does, BUT, maybe that’s just because we’re limiting ourselves? What’s that saying, you can’t be everything to everyone?  But that’s what libraries are called to do…as tax based institutions (more often than not), it’s what we MUST do.  So, maybe libraries can’t do exactly what Bookswim does, but maybe by tweaking rules and regulations, we can get closer to what Bookswim does.  And that would be great.

That’s my thought for the day…have a good weekend!


**Drop offs across the country, access to info even at obscure places, and in the case of Bookswim, greater liklihood of getting best sellers more quickly…to name a few.


3 responses to “What are they doing right?

  1. Why are libraries and librarians so defensive about private enterprise offering entertainment books to the public in a rental plan. Libraries do so many more important things for the community to try to justify competing for entertainment products that consumers would otherwise buy.

  2. Here in California we have Interlibrary Services where our patrons can order books from anywhere in the world and it doesn’t cost them a dime. Many libraries use this service if they have funding from the state (which is usually the case). There is also a service where you can “Pick Up Anywhere”, allowing patrons to use a library’s service even if they are living in a another city. This service is available for all books, study and pleasure.

    So in a way, we are doing what Bookswim does.

    • Sorry for my delay in responding – thank you for your comment. ILL is such a powerful tool. In Michigan it was used with great success, in Indiana, it’s sometimes a smooth process, sometimes not, depending on the library. I agree…ILL is a “doing right” item and does mimic that delivery concept.

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