I noticed a few days back that my wife and I had neglected to return 'The Unincorporated Woman' to the library on time---it being overdue by a couple of days. Now, having the 'middle class honor' that Half Sigma likes to write vaguely disparagingly of, we of course hastened to return it and pay the few pennies in library fines.
I thought a bit during this about library fines and the possibilities that exist there. It strikes me that library fines are defined by two main parameters---how long you get to keep the book without any fine and the fine per unit time. Sometimes they also have a fine cap and sometimes the fine per unit time is nonlinear.
What I wonder about it this: Are there any explicit legal limits on what values these parameters can take?
For instance, imagine that the first parameter was effectively zero. Imagine that the 2nd parameter was dependent on the type and 'newness' of a book---being, say $1/day for a new release of something that actually typically sells quite a few copies.
All of the sudden, with tweaks to just a couple of parameters, you've created an entirely new business model---a model I've never seen in practice. It's essentially like a video rental store, except with books. Surely there's a reason this is illegal :-) I know there are a lot of people like myself that view the main utility in books as devouring them and have considerably less use for owning them long term. I'd love to be able to effectively rent a new book for 3 days for $3 or so, read it, and return it so the next person in the queue could do the same. It also seems that if you could obtain books near their wholesale or sale price, there'd be plenty of profit margin in the business.
So why is it that this business model essentially doesn't exist? Certainly it would be profoundly disruptive, but doesn't there exist a doctrine of the first sale?
Seems to me such an establishment could also do a groupon like thing where they'd purchase a copy of a book if N people agreed to check it out. So where is the hidden barrier to entry?
Of course, like most of my offerings, this is yours to use in any way you like---even claiming it is your original idea and gaining social status or fantastic amounts of money.