Allison's Book Bag

“Netflix” for Books!

Posted on: April 9, 2013

Ever wish there was a “Netflix for Books”? Turns out there are at least two such companies that offer these services. One is for general audiences and the other is for children up to six years of age.

The first launched, Sproutkin, launched just this year and offers to ship ten new children’s books to families on a regular basis for the monthly fee of $24.99. Each shipment is centered on a specific theme accompanied by a “Sproutcard” that offers activities and discussion questions relating to the books and theme. Should any of the books become favorites that one wants to keep, subscribers have the option of keeping it for 10% off the retail price. The rest can be returned using the same box and prepaid postage label.

BookSwim (Yet another service that chips away ...

BookSwim (Photo credit: mstephens7)

The company Sproutkin was founded by Raelyn Bleharski, a former lawyer with two kids of her own. She was inspired to build Sproutkin out of a personal need to maintain a constant supply of quality, new books. Sproutkin works with a small educational advisory board to select its books, which includes a current preschool teacher and two former educators with 30 years of teaching experience behind them.

The second, Bookswim, was launched in 2007 and offers to ship three new books to members on a regular basis for the monthly fee of $19.98. Customers can also opt for other plans, such as one that allows them to receive eleven books for a monthly fee of $39.94. George Burke and his friend Shamoon Siddiqui co-founded Bookswim and operated their first ten months out of a basement. The company has since branched out, establishing headquarters in New Jersey with distribution facilities in eastern Pennsylvania.

While researching the origins of Bookswim, I found of most interest their claim that they didn’t wish to compete with libraries. Quite the opposite! The company has apparently expressed interest in taking libraries on as customers. Moreover, in October 2008, BookSwim donated an extra 13,000 books from its inventory to the Newark Public Library.

Do you have any experience with either of these book subscriptions? Do you know of similar services? And if so, what are your thoughts about them? Do you use them, bookstores, libraries, or a combination of both?

3 Responses to "“Netflix” for Books!"

How are these companies different than traditional book clubs?

Most newer book clubs send fliers with descriptions of books, but members don’t see the monthly selection unless interested in buying it. In contrast, with these “Netfix for Books” clubs, you’re renting the books the way one would rent movies from a video store. The books arrive at your home, you read them and, when you’re done, you return them in a postage-paid box.

However, you’re right that with traditional book clubs, one often did receive the book in the mail to browse and so it amounted to the same thing. In that case, the main difference would be the quantity. With these clubs, you can receive ten books from Sproutkin and up to eleven books from Bookswim.

Another point I should add is, unlike with a library, there also aren’t any overdue fees. As long as you return the books, you keep receiving new ones to read.

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