I’ve been a loyal member of Netflix for several years now, and what makes it so great is that the movies are delivered right to my home. So when I heard about BookSwim, which is a service that delivers books right to your home, I really wanted to see what it was all about. Because I get books from so many sources and have a great library, the BookSwim delivery service doesn’t make much sense for someone like me to use. Someone else, though, who doesn’t have access to a library, is home bound, and/or doesn’t have the room to store owned books is the perfect client for BookSwim.
BookSwim has been around since 2007, and carries bestsellers as well as old favorites. The inventory is always growing, and books are added into the system based on the readers’ demand. I started adding books to my Pool (which is what BookSwim calls the list of books I want to read) based on the newer Young Adult books I have on my paperbackswap.com and Amazon.com Wish Lists I was a little bit disappointed to see that BookSwim didn’t have a lot of my most desired books available for rental. When this happens, the books are placed in a section of my account called My Requests. When 5 people all request these books, then it is automatically added into my Pool. Pretty soon I had just as many books on my Requests list as I did in my Pool. For my most wanted new releases, I was at the mercy of other BookSwim members to want them just as much as I did, and to rely on them to do what I’d done and put in a request for the book. A better way for BookSwim to know what people want is to somehow track what members are searching for; I just don’t think that every member is going to catch on that they have to manually put in a request for the books they want.
During my trial, I had to contact Customer Service twice. Two books that I had under My Requests were showing at 100%, meaning that enough people had requested the book. Unfortunately, the books hadn’t been moved automatically to my Pool. If a member has a really long list, he or she is not going to notice when the books hits that 100%. Customer Service promptly responded after about 24 hours and the books I enquired about were added to my Pool. I was pleased with the resolution, but it seems like more than just a glitch to me since it happened twice. I want a site to be easy to use, and I want it to be trustworthy. This feature, while a good one, is a bit of a let down if the member has to babysit his or her account.
Sending and receiving the books is a simple process. BookSwim provides return shipping labels and pays for the costs. All you as a customer pay are flat monthly rates. There are currently 5 different plans so that every type of reader can be accommodated. I read no less than 10 books per month, and can read a book per day if I really devote myself to it. If I used BookSwim solely to obtain my reading material, that would cost me $59.95 per month! Multiple that times 12, and that’s a pretty hefty price for an entire year’s worth of reading. I can’t speak for everyone, just myself. For certain types of individuals this is a terrific deal. I have a friend who has a really small library in her city. She probably lives maybe 40 minutes to an hour from another library, but she can’t check out books from it unless she buys a pass that costs $200 per year. This pass is still cheaper than a year-long membership to BookSwim. Someone else who doesn’t want to buy new books and doesn’t have a library within 40 minutes may find BookSwim very useful, however.
To their credit, BookSwim was very quick about getting my books to me. As soon as I sent back my first package and the Post Office scanned it, my second package was prepared and mailed out. I used little of my own packaging materials to return my books to them, and they kindly sent another waterproof plastic bag for me to use when I was ready to send more books back to them. The Customer Service was timely about addressing my concerns, and the site design is easy to use. I feel the pricing could use a little adjustment, but I also understand that they have to make a profit somehow and this is probably how they do it. And the more profit they make, the more selection they can offer to their members. It’s not a site I can benefit from right now (I have more than made use of my Amazon.com Prime membership, which is $79 per year–it’s a bit misleading on BookSwim’s front page, I think!) but maybe I will consider it as an option in the future.
*I was not financially compensated for this review. I received a sample of the product for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*