Thanks to Lifehacker for originally pointing this out...
As someone now regularly writing book reviews, I am of course trying to tear through as many novels as possible these days; and since there are not a lot of publicists yet who regularly send me free advance reader copies of these books, I am forced most of the time to rely on Chicago's excellent public library system instead. And while this is great when it comes to a lot of books out there I want to read, there are certain popular ones for which it's simply lousy; I've been waiting three freaking months and counting, for example, to get my hands on either Cormac McCarthy's The Road or Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You, with still no end in sight.
I could really use a service, then, like the new BookSwim.com, which simply bills itself as "Netflix for books;" that is, you pay a flat fee each month to BookSwim, and are then allowed to "check out" a certain amount of books from their warehouse, and to hold on to them for as long as you want. The basic plan, for example, costs US$20 a month (10 pounds, 15 euros), and lets you have three books out at any given moment; they're shipped to you for free in a padded envelope, just like Netflix DVDs, and contain a pre-stamped envelope for sending the book back, just like Netflix DVDs. As soon as you send a book back, you're eligible to have another one sent, which you pick from their interactive database at their main website; as of the day I'm writing this (late August 2007), the company has 150,000 titles available for rental, including nice big heaps in both "literary" and "science-fiction," two categories of specific interest to CCLaP readers.
I could see such a thing being a great supplement to any person out there like me, with a great love for reading but not much disposable income; a way to augment the more obscure books picked up at the library, the few "must-haves" that are out-and-out purchased, the loans from friends and the like. Of course, I've never actually used BookSwim, so I'll leave it up to readers to give us more info about the company itself, and if they're worth the price they're charging. Have you had a particularly good or bad experience with BookSwim? Or are you from BookSwim and want to point out something I might have missed? By all means, in all these cases please leave a comment, which don't forget are moderated to make sure they aren't breaking CCLaP's ethical guidelines.