Monday, February 2, 2009

Use the Web to Borrow DVDs from Friends

Today is the day this site opens! What do you think? Good idea? Read On!

Latest Way to Beat the Recession:
Use the Web to Borrow DVDs from Friends




2 FEBRUARY 2009 – Recession-hit Americans can now watch hundreds of free
movies – by using a new web site to borrow DVDs from their friends.

"It's like Netflix meets Facebook," said Jackson, founder of
"You list some DVDs you own, invite some friends you like, and start
browsing their collections. The web site helps arrange loans, and keeps
track of where everyone's DVDs are. And nobody pays anyone anything."

Jackson estimates that though there are over two billion DVDs in US homes,
80 per cent are watched just twice a year. "What stops us sharing with
friends isn't meanness," he said, "it's embarrassment. Borrowers don't know
how to ask, and lenders fear they'll forget who they lent a treasured movie

LendAround solves the problem for both sides. Browse and search tools make
it easy to find out what movies and TV are in friends' collections, and a
"Your DVDs" tab shows the location of every lent out DVD. A 'retrieve' button
allows owners to ask for their movie back without having to call or email
the borrower.

With an estimated $7 billion a year spent in the US on movie rentals,
consumers are likely to see paid entertainment as an obvious target for
savings. But it was experience in Africa, rather than the concern about the
economy, that gave birth to LendAround. "This isn't really about money,"
said Jackson.

Jackson, a former journalist who founded a $2 billion online auction company
and later worked as a venture capitalist, started visiting Africa regularly
in 2005 for his charitable foundation, which gives tiny grants to community

"Coming back from Rwanda or Lesotho and looking around my home, I was
struck by how much stuff we all own and take for granted," he said. Wouldn't
it be great if instead of leaving things to gather dust on shelves, we could
lend them to our friends?"

Although the LendAround service does not compete with video stores or
DVD-by-mail services, it can give users a surprising choice. "I and my
friends are currently sharing 1,634 movies," said Jackson. "That's less than
the average Blockbuster store, but the choice is surprisingly wide – from
West Wing and The Wire to obscure Kurosawa and Almodovar art-house titles."

Most users will share DVDs with personal friends and colleagues at work, but
Jackson also expects rapid growth in universities and among members of
churches and sports clubs, who meet regularly and trust each other. So in
most cases, DVDs are lent and returned by hand.

But LendAround also supports borrowing by mail. "When my brother in New York
requests a DVD from a friend in Seattle, they can download and print a
customized page with his address on it, wrap up the DVD in 30 seconds, and
mail it for just 43 cents."

For Jackson, DVDs are just the beginning. "We've started with DVDs because
they're not too expensive, they're rarely used, only take a couple of hours
to enjoy, and have a standard size and weight. But depending on what they
ask for, people could use LendAround to share anything and everything."

More sharing is good for the environment because it means less use of the
world's resources to make products, less packaging and transportation, and
less garbage and landfill when they are discarded.

As well as allowing people to show off big collections, the LendAround
service also works for people who have only three or four DVDs of their own.

"Netflix don't publish how many DVDs they stock," said Jackson. "But working
backwards from their financial statements with the SEC, it looks like they
own about four DVDs per customer. They manage to provide a great service
with surprisingly few DVDs, but not everyone can afford $17 a month to
borrow three movies at a time. LendAround is free. It's by the people, for
the people."

Jackson also believes that in hard times, people are more likely to come
together to help each other. "A friend does you a favour by lending you
something, and you do them a favour in return. What goes around, comes
around – that's our motto."

Note: I personally haven't checked this site out yet; however, as a member of Book Crossing, I do support the idea of sharing! Check it out...!

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