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Read and Return: Buy a Book, Read it, Return it for 50% Back

At the beginning of this week I had a quick business trip. At the airport, I went into a book store, as I often to, to browse around. I saw a row of books with a big Read and Return bookmark. Apparently, Paradise Shops, a chain of airport bookstores, has been operating this program since 2003.

The program goes like this: You buy one of their Read and Return books, and if you return the book within six months with the original receipt, you will get a 50% refund on the original purchase price. In essence, you have rented a book for 50% of sales price.

Certainly, it’s cheaper to get a book from the library or even buy it on Amazon.com. Most paperbacks I saw at the shop was $12-$18, so even 50% would be close to $10. That’s pretty steep for renting a book for a few days or even a couple of weeks.

So… of course you know what I did. I bought Mennonite in a Little Black Dress for $14.00 on Tuesday, finished it in one gulp, and then returned it when I came back yesterday. It was a 1-day book rental that cost me $7.00. And the book wasn’t as good as I had expected.

But, I would totally do this again. For the sake of my budget, though, it’d make sense to buy books at used book sales or even on Amazon. There is something to be said, however, for the convenience that the Read and Return program offers. Besides, a book is a healthier impulse purchase than a bar of chocolate, right? Right?

Have you heard of Paradise Shops’ Read and Return program? Would you use it?

  • Two Degrees - Not a bad idea.

    The Read and Return program isn’t something I would necessarily seek out, unless I hadn’t planned ahead and was craving a good book to kill time. I try hard not to buy new books, because of the environmental impact.

    Have you heard of BookMooch? It’s a trading system where you ship off books to other people and can request ones that you want. There’s no charge and the only investment is postage when you send books TO others. It’s based off a point system. I’ve made a spreadsheet and calculated that I had to invest about $6 per book. Americans have said that they’ve spent less because of Media Mail (we don’t have that in Canada). Great for the environment and better for the pocketbook. ReplyCancel

  • CityFlips - That's cool, but I haven't heard of it. The Indianapolis airport has a Red Box thing outside of security. I've always thought that was a neat idea, but I've never used it. I suppose I'm afraid I'll get to my destination and forget to return the movie! ReplyCancel

  • krantcents - It seems like a good market campaign to counteract Amazon and the ebook revolution. It makes sense because how often do you really need to keep the book! ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen - I don't travel by plane that often, but when I do, I usually go on long haul flights (from the East Coast to West Coast and back). I try to plan ahead and bring a book to read but this does not always happen. I would totally try using this Read and Return program in instances like that. I've never heard of it before, but it sounds very convenient. Still though, as you said, it's much cheaper to buy books used or off Amazon or to check them out from the library. ReplyCancel

  • Serendipity - It may not be the cheapest option for checking out a book, but that certainly is smart of them to offer that option, especially when people are flying in and out. ReplyCancel

  • fabulouslyfrugirl - I think it's a nifty idea, but I'd rather check out the local library or Amazon. Even half price is a bit steep, sometimes. Especially new best sellers…. ReplyCancel

  • Karen - I'm familiar with it although I can't recall if I've purchased a new book and returned it. I have bought a 50% off book. I only buy from the airport when I've exhausted the books I brought with. ReplyCancel

  • Perfect Dad - Does the book have to be pristine when it's returned? I assume that they can put it back on the shelf, or that it has at least some residual value to the store, in which case, brilliant!

    Retailers usually get somewhere around a 40%-50% markup, so that book probably cost the store $8 or $10, meaning a sale profit of $4-$6. When they rent it and you bring it back THEY PROBABLY MAKE MORE THAN IF YOU KEPT IT! They just made $7 instead of $4-$6, and they STILL HAVE THE BOOK. Some genius just increased their bottom line by probably over 50%. ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Oh I\’m sure they are making money hand over fist. But I travel a bit for work so I am in and out of airports quite frequently. When I\’m bored, sometimes I don\’t always make the financially wise choice! ūüėČ ReplyCancel

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