Sunday, September 6, 2009

Free, Fast, Hot Off The Press Delivery

You're perusing the latest issue of your favorite magazine, The New Yorker. (Let's be honest here, if you're like me it's more likely you're taking a gander at the latest People Magazine-- we have to keep up with Kate Gosselin, right?) Anyway, next you and I check out the book reviews, and there it is: a four star review of the newest E.L. Doctorow novel, Homer and Langley. Terrific! Doctorow is one of our favorite writers, and he's writing about the legendary Collyer Brothers, who wrote the book on disposophobia, and eventually died as they lived: in a Harlem brownstone surrounded by over 100 tons of refuse.

Of course we want to read this book ASAP, and we'll carve out enough time to do it. This despite working, commuting, cooking, cleaning, exercising, and walking the dog. But how to get our hands on it? We barely have time to read, and a trip to the bookstore or library entails parking, navigating the aisles, and finding the darn thing. What a hassle! Never fear. Help is on the way. We can have that book delivered.

The Houston Public Library, known for providing innovative services that take full advantage of modern technology, has begun a new service. It just might bring back memories of those cool carhops on roller skates you saw in American Graffiti. Yes, curbside delivery of books is now available. Customers reserve books online, and are notified by e-mail when the items are ready. After a drive to the library, a cell phone call is all that's needed for the friendly staff to deliver that much wanted tome straight to an idling T-Bird. No muss, no fuss, no parking.

Not living in a city with a cutting edge public library? There are other options. These services are like Netflix for books. Booksfree.com requires an initial membership fee, starting as low as $10.99 a month, after that books will be shipped to your mailbox for rental, with no due date or late fees. Shipping is free both ways, too. Bookswim.com offers essentially the same service, with a fee of $19.99 per month buying an unlimited number of book rentals.

So what are we waiting for? With these services we can have our books, and keep our home from looking like the Harlem deathtrap of the Collyer Brothers with the time we've saved. Cleaning-up literally and figuratively, aren't we?

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