Michael Porter (libraryman) has been talking about Netflix and fee-based services. It’s good stuff – go read and think! That’s what I did, hence this post… here’s my off-the-cuff thinking about the Netflix model and charging patrons for value-added services.
This can work just like a web 2.0 company’s services. Let’s use Flickr as an example: Flickr’s basic service is free, but to become a “pro” member, you’re charged $24.95 per year. Lots of users never mess with the Pro part, and use the free service happily; others start out with the free service, and then decide to upgrade to the pro, fee-based service for ease-of-use, more bells and whistles, more storage space, etc. So there’s a definite tiered, free-to-fee approach to their services.
Now let’s combine that tiered model with the Netflix/library thing… let’s allow patrons to check out videos for free (we already do this). Even place holds on them (again, we already do this). But then let’s jump a little off the deep end and offer an upgraded, “extreme movie addict” service that’s fee-based: if you pay a paltry fee, you’re entitled to services the “free” patrons can’t get, like:
- weighted holds, so you’re first in line for videos
- mail or courier delivery of videos to your door
- a cool newsletter/blog/email that provides stuff others can’t get (hmm… things like tickets to early screenings [need to work with community here], maybe invitations to a celebrity event, etc)
- personalized movie advisory guide – the “if you liked this movie, you’ll like…” type of service – but focused on the individual, fee-based customers
- ahem … a Friends of the Library membership…
The idea here is that:
- the fee would help pay for the added service
- this community-based version of a Netflix-like model would be friendly, personalized, and close to home – therefore more desirable than Netflix, et al.
- the normal, friendly, and free library service wouldn’t change – you’d just charge extra for the value-added, personalized, bells-and-whistles service
And now, let’s jump off the high dive – let’s not stop at videos. How about the rest of our content? What can we do to add some personalized, desirable, bells-and-whistles services to the rest of the library? Home book delivery? Emails from a friendly librarian telling me there’s a cool new fantasy novel out, and it’s already been placed on hold just for me (because I pay $25 a year for the service)?
So… am I off my rocker here? Let me know!