Literature Rental: Why It Does Not Work In Singapore

Literature Rental

I have been busy these few weeks. As such, I have not posted new titles, or anything interesting on the web that catches my interest.

I was talking to a few fans of BooksAvenue who have bought a large number of books from our site. They are quite keen to sell the purchased books back to BooksAvenue, thus effectively, modifying the past purchased transaction into a rental transaction.

Books rental in the past by BooksAvenue
Books rental in the past by BooksAvenue

When my team and I first started BooksAvenue, we did have this concept. It was around 2 years back, around 2012. It was pretty ‘ok’, as what my partner Adam observed. But the bulk of sales was mostly purchases. 20% of the after sales turned into rental. In other words, there are more buyers/readers who are willing to buy and own the book.

The idea of renting books is an old book business concept, adopted from business model in the past such as Sunny Bookstore and Sans Bookstore. Readers first purchase the book, say S$10. After finishing the book, they send the book back to us and we return them S$7. Thus, S$3 for renting the book.

In this way, for a lower amount of money, a typical reader from BooksAvenue will be able to read more books. That is under the condition that the returned books are to be in good condition.

Think about it; S$3 to read a book for 3 weeks. No doubt National Library is there to borrow books for free. But what if the popular titles are out of stock currently?

In 2013, we scrapped the idea because, as mentioned earlier, the bulk of sales are from purchase, rather than rental. While rental of literature is of better benefit for readers, ultimately we learn that market forces will determine what is required for business owners to provide. Similarly at that point of time, we labelled this case as “HDB Syndrome”.

The HDB Syndrome
The HDB Syndrome

Accordingly to Team BooksAvenue, rather pointedly mentioned by our partner Adam, HDB Syndrome is a case whereby everyone prefers to own, than to rent. We Singaporeans understand that buying a flat gives a peace of mind. With the purchase of an asset, we are not ‘required to return it and we can consume it endlessly’, unburdened by the concept of Time. With that in mind, it explains why book rental was not very successful in our context.

Not to mention, a bulk of our clientèle base is mostly students and elderlies. Allowing such option for literature rental would be, and should be quite a popular option. At least that was what we thought in 2012. Based on actual sales reports we compile each month, most of our fans are keen to buy and own books.

So yep, that elaborated why the rental of literature has been scrapped eventually.

Hope that this post explains why we scrapped the option that was available in the past. As we have received numerous queries via email, we decided to write it out to explain this.

Yet again, who knows? If you are keen for literature rental, make yourself heard! Comment on this post and let us know! Join our mailing list!:D

Till then!


Our Books. Your Convenience.


*images belong to respective owners obtained from Google

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