« Comcast Chairman on Netflix: "They Do a Great Job." | Main | Maximum Simultaneous Netflix Streams & Netflix-Ready Players »



People still go to the library? I can find way more reading material online, not to mention video.


People get movies from library because they are free. If they weren't, no one would go there for movies. Besides the selection and quantities of movies at the library are poor. Library is not a competitor to netflix.

Chris M.

Unless you actually go to the library to rent movies then what you think is exactly that. What you think. Not what you know. Are libraries going to have the newest releases? No, but what they have that is completely free is fairly impressive. I didn't even know that our library was renting DVD's until my mother mentioned dropping her DVD's off at the library a few years ago.

And yes people still use the library since it's free to rent books and most of the stuff your getting "free" on the internet is stolen hence it being "free". Yes there are legal free e-books out there but not like what you will find for free at a public library.

And yes you are right that the library is no competition to Netflix. One is a pay service and the other a free public service. The library would have to charge to be considered a competitor to Netflix, ya know like Redbox or Blockbuster, but since the library is a free service we're talking apples and oranges.

Oh yeah and Netfilx and all movie watching is a luxuary that many of us are lucky enough to be able to afford. It's nice to know that there is something out there for people who don't have money to waste on frivilous odds and ends like many on here. Nice to see the privileged stay so humble.


Drop the self-rightousness Chris M, the library is only free to users because it's paid for by taxpayers. Where do you get off criticizing people who pay for entertainment?
I read news websites and free e-books online so don't think I'm stealing content.


I waited four months for Netflix to send me Inglorious Bastards. I finally gave up and reserved it from the library, cpl.org, and got it in a couple weeks. I also get movies that I want to see on BlueRay from the library.


If libraries started to dip into puchasing the huge amount of classic international film content that Netflix refuses to rent, I'd definitely pay for that service.
Just of the top of my head, Godard or Renais,2 huge New Wave directors who don't their complete ouvre on Netflix, or take Fassbinder as well, Netlfix is missing alot.


Are you guys kidding?

..or maybe the situation at your local library is just dire compared to the average library.

The library here gets new releases and the selection is far from poor (my library orders every Criterion release on its opening release), in fact the selection is far above Blockbuster or Hollywood ever were if you include the reservation system that combines all movies from the libraries in this county (Oregon, Washington County, not a big county). I even put in a hold for a film noir two days ago, The Set-Up (I haven't seen it with the Scorsese commentary), and then realized it said 0 out of 0 copies available. I left it in my queue and the next day they ORDERED it for me and it's already shipped and on its way, which usually takes 2-3 days.

I got The White Ribbon shortly after it came out, and I didn't have to reserve it, it was just there. I reserved The Runaways (July 20th release date) and now that's on its way here along with The Set-Up.

I do agree with the comments saying the library is not a competitor, but I'm sick of this belief that the library only has a couple DVDs of Gone with the Wind, Lassie, and The Sound of Music. I told my friend to go to the library awhile back and he made a face and said "Really? The library? Nah." and he continues to order things off Netflix that I see at the library. It actually just happened with Seven Chances, Henry Fool, and The Violin and he still scoffs at the idea of going to the library.

If the situation really is different at your local library then I'm sorry, but I don't mean to brag and seeing as I'm in a small county that doesn't even include Portland, the closest large city to me, I don't think I am bragging because I'm sure their selection is even better, but if you assume that the libraries selection is crap or don't realize they have a website that will most likely be connected with other libraries resulting in a great selection of movies then I urge you to check it out.


"If libraries are looking for funding, why not charge $1 per night for DVD rentals? "
Usually they have around 20 or so copies of the movie that are distributed , it's not like Netflix where you wait a few days, usually a popular movie attracts around 100-300 people clamoring it, it ships to your local library for pickup when it ships.However, it is free, so there's nothing to complain.


What a coincidence, Nate, I actually have Last Year at Marienbad [Criterion] here next to me from the library. I got it for the 2nd DVD and booklet, although most likely the essays are on the Criterion website anyways; I just prefer holding something when I'm reading, if I have an option that is.

A lot of Renais, Fassbinder, and especially Godard are simply out of print or never were on DVD (in America). They're still out there through other means, and yes I take full advantage of those other means if I have to. :)

I am actually pretty impressed at my libraries collection of so-called foreign films although admittedly Netflix has more, but yeah alot is still missing from NF.. in which case.........


Our local library has a pretty good selection of TV shows. They rent a disc for 7 days, and the late fee is $1/day after that.


Chris M, take it down like four notches dude.

I used to like to grab DVDs from the local library when I was a poor college kid. Most systems have searchable online databases, and I was able to get my hands on a bunch of sweet movies and even series like The Sopranos. I wouldn't consider it a Netflix competitor, as I'm not sure many people would be willing to pay for that sort of system. But if you want to find something to watch on the cheap, it never hurts to check it out.


I use the library in conjunction with Netflix. My (small city) library has a substantial collection: new releases, foreign, TV shows, kids, documentaries. They charge a minimal rent -- $1 rent for 7-days and you can renew. Late fees are $2 per day after that.

By charging for DVDs they have avoided a threatened closure, laying off staff, and actually increased the number of books, CDs, and computer terminals available to the community. And migrated to a completely automated check-out/return process. DVD rentals are keeping my library going!


I imagine the selection at your library(ies) depends on where you live. I live in a major city on the east coast and our system has quite a few libraries. If my local branch doesn't have a title, I can search online and have it transferred for me. So the selection available is pretty darn good.

They do charge $2 per DVD rental for two days on anything that has been released in the last six months or so. Anything older than that is free, but the rental period is still two days. Late fees are charged after that unless you renew, which you can do online up to two times.

It's not a bad deal, as long as it is convenient to visit your local branch, since you have to return discs so quickly. However, popular older movies are sometimes so scratched and abused as to be unplayable. I use it occassionally, as I visit the library often for books and other media.

It's not enough to get me to cancel my Netflix account, by any means. Netflix provides the convenience of at home delivery, no due dates and unlimited streaming to my Roku at a reasonable price.


Arguing about "the library" makes about as much sense as arguing about "the store." Where you live and which library you visit is going to make a huge difference.

I used to think there were only a few interesting titles in my local library branch. Then I searched online and discovered that most of the DVDs are just always checked out. You can put a hold or request on a title that you otherwise may never see on the shelf.

Loan period at my library is 7 days and the fine is the same for books: 30 cents a day.

Steve I

Here in Phoenix the DVD (and CD) selection at the library is excellent with new release titles available. You can search for titles online and if the branch closest to you doesn't have the title you want, they bring it to your branch. You can reserve titles and they send you an e-mail letting you know when your movies/cd's are ready for pickup. You're allowed to keep the movies for a week (free of charge). A new branch opened close to me and fairly quickly the Hollywood Video next door to it closed......


Here in Oak Harbor the libraries offer most of the newest releases even the ones you have to wait the extra 28 days with netflix and if they don't have it here but it is in their system from one of the other libraries they are a part of they will have sent here and I can go pick them up. I find it a nice fit to having netflix dvd's and the IW feature.


You say the library isn't a competitor because it's free, but that's faulty logic. Just look at Internet Explorer and Netscape many years ago. Competitors have similar product offerings, regardless of price. (Or if one is an alternative to another, like if Netflix loses customers who choose to get movies from the library instead.) Local libraries aren't a competitive threat to Netflix not because they're free, but because the total selection and service just isn't the same.

Even if my library (3 miles away) had all the titles and availability that Netflix had, if I had to drive there three times a week, it would cost more in gas/etc than a Netflix subscription. That's assuming a 2-day rental window. If I could visit just once a week and rent 3-4 at a time, it'd make more sense.


While my local library has the newest releases, and they are good about buying new releases, it takes them 4-6 weeks AFTER the release date for their order of 20-30 copies to come in and to process them for library use. Then I wait some more-with new releases, there's anywhere between 1500-1800 names on the waiting list to get a copy of the movie (and it sucks if you end up at the end of it...) and my library system lets you keep DVD's for 14 days. So be prepared to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait and wait some more. They don't offer blue-ray (too expensive) and they stuff they do have in stock is well, to put it mildly, are not very popular titles. "goodwill rejects" is what one librarian I know called them.

They also offer tv shows....BUT, and I mean a very BIG BUT...they only offer one or two seasons of the tv show, not all seasons and only a handful of the best of x series collection.


I live in Missouri and do get some of my movies from the library. And I don't know about where everyone else lives, but in MO, the libraries DO get the NEW releases. I am also a Netflix subscriber and have as well been known to get a movie from RedBox and Blockbuster Express.

Bob Emmerich

The library is a great option and I would say is a competitor to Netflix on a very David vs. Goliath scale, only Netflix doesn't have a temple, it has IW, which is only growing the brand. For people with school age kids both the children's and adults DVD sections get a ton of use at my library. It's possible many of these people also have Netflix, I've never asked.

Bob Emmerich

Can't find the edit button -

By "adults DVD section" I am in no way implying my library has ADULT videos, only that the kids movies are kept in a separate place from the other movies, and whenever I see mom's leave the library, they usually have movies from each section.


Bob, that's funny, "adults DVD sections"-- I never took it that way until your second post.

Libraries are great. I haven't been to mine for years, but when I lived close by and was raising my daughter, we'd be there twice a week. They had vhs tapes, and there is content on vhs not on dvd, like the Civil War Journal or CW Combat or one of those, and the episode on Color Bearers still haunts me. Wish I could see that again.

Byteme hit the big factor for me-- convenience. Much easier to have the letter carrier bring the movie to my mail box than for me to drive my car several miles away to look for it.

Fassbinder's films (Rainer Werner, not Michael) -- not a good collection on Netflix? That's an example I always use of why I like Netflix-- there are 30 titles listed for him! Try to find even one at Blockbuster or Hollywood--- don't know about the nearby library--

Great discussion all.


I think this topic is what logic professors call a "red herring"-- you pose an argument and then bring up evidence for each side.

There is no competition between Netflix and libraries. It's a red herring argument.

Simply noting that libraries loan more DVDs each day than does Netflix does not constitute evidence that one is in competition with the other.

Walt D in LV

The library system in the Las Vegas area, www.lvccld.org is incredible. Not only does it carry DVDs, it has an on-line streaming service, lets you view car fix-it manuals, check out ebooks, and more. The DVD selection is pretty vast, including what others mentioned at their libraries, i.e. Criterion Collection and a large Foreign film section. I suppose because both of those categories are somewhat educational.

All of it is searchable in their online database, and if a title isn't available at your closest location, they will get it from any of thirty or so locations in the valley. Quite impressive.

I am, however, disappointed that they haven't yet embraced Blu-ray. They don't carry any at all. In that respect, they're sort of like Wal-Mart and Sam's Club out here. They both carry VERY few Blu-rays.

Walt D in LV

Perkins Cobb

The New York Public Library used to be pretty useless in terms of DVDs: limited selection, an overload of holds on popular titles, most of the inventory concentrated in two or three large branches, and still lots of VHS.

But over the last two years or so, the NYPL has really turned around. They're acquiring a high enough volume of new releases and Criterions that you can actually wander into a small local branch and find quite a few of both on the shelf, along with a diverse smattering of older OOP discs that Netflix no longer carries.

Instead of breaking up TV releases and multi-volume movie sets (like, say, Universal's Cary Grant collection), the NYPL is now checking those out as a unit, so that I can check out the most recent season of TRUE BLOOD and watch the whole thing over two weeks. For free. And that only counts as 1 item out of the 10 that I can keep checked out.

I'd been planning to fire up my Netflix account again this week, but I found enough goodies at the library on my last visit that I decided to delay NF for another week. There's your real-world evidence that in some cases, yes, libraries are direct competition against Netflix.

And while the NYPL is saving me some coin for now, they're also raising their late fees for DVDs to $3 PER DAY ... so perhaps they're really hoping to compete with Blockbuster rather than Netflix.


That wouldn't be very library-like, but perhaps a suggested donation at checkout.


In my area if you ask people for $1 up front to check out DVDs they'll go off on the poor librarian about how I don't have any outstanding fines I'm not paying $$, this is a public library not a movie rental store my already sky high taxes are supposed to be paying for this chit rant and people won't check out DVD's and will keep their $1.

If my library started charging to "borrow" movies, I would stop checking them out too.


The library is a competitor to Netflix in the same sense that it's a competitor to Amazon: as prices get too high for the perceived product value, people go with the lower-priced option. I say perceived because it's about more than price. For instance, I value Netflix in part for its convenience.

You could argue that streaming is to Netflix as Kindle is to Amazon, since both have a lower cost of delivery.

What's important to remember is that media publishers, aggregators and retailers aren't just in competition from each other, but with all forms of entertainment. There are too many things for people to do with their free time these days for any media company to think it has carte blanche to raise prices and/or cut service.


Also, although libraries are comparatively low-cost, they are not free. We all pay for them through our taxes.

Separately, library late fees are not a money-maker intended to help them compete with for-profit rental businesses. Late fees go toward paying for operations, but libraries are always, in business terms, cost centers; they cost more to operate than they bring in.


Now's a good time to mention Wowbrary, rather than read the usual comments from non-library goers above. This site is incredible. It shows you all the new DVDs & CDs your library will be getting in, each and every week. What kind of person buys all this stuff? Well, maybe the people who don't realize libraries have it for FREE. Don't doubt your library until you actually look into what they offer. You'd be a fool to waste what little money you have on that next DVD you suddenly decide you have to have.


The only place I rent DVDs other than Netflix is from the library, and not Blockbuster or Redbox. My local library (all of its branches) has been carrying DVDs for about a decade and charges only $1 a week. They can be returned to any branch or checked out again through the website or by phone. People are always surprised how many DVDs they have, and the variety. People tend to think the library will only have documentaries and the like. Sure they don't have ten or twenty copies of the latest new release like in Blockbuster, but they do get new releases. I only really go there for TV DVDs so I can get the whole set rather than wait for each disc to come through Netflix, and might pick up a movie if I really want to watch it right then. It's definitely more convenient than standing outside a Redbox.


We get plenty of DVDs from the library, but the big distinction is that they are usually kid movies and we get them in large quantities for a road trip. It would be impossible to use our Netflix queue to pick up 10 movies to take on the road with us.

Also, for those of you who don't use your local library, that's a shame. Reading and researching with real books is becoming a lost art. Our library is an extension of our living room. I can't imagine life without it.

Rob Molecule

It is competition because it is an option for some people that otherwise might get a Netflix account. I used libraries for years, both in Buffalo and when I moved to Pittsburgh for school. I never saw any reason to get Netflix as the library provided me with more than enough of pretty much anything I wanted at no additional cost. Yes, it's paid for by taxes, but you pay for it anyway, even if you don't use it. The choice to use it costs nothing. Now, when I moved back to Buffalo, they changed the system and started charging a dollar to request a movie. It was only then that I started to see Netflix as a much better option. The library is competition to Netflix, even more so when it is free. It doesn't matter if the library is not making money, it can still cause Netflix to lose subscribers if it gives away the same goods that people would otherwise pay for.


My local library charges.


The San Francisco PL charges $1.00 per day* on every overdue DVD (can checkout 10 titles for 7 days). I had a $40 fine last week after forgetting to return a batch. I don't think they need to charge a fee for rentals...

* - compared to $0.10 per day on overdue books.

Douglas Galbi

The OCLC report actually shows that Netflix rents 2.2 million videos per day. For other data and comments on libraries video circulation, see

The comments to this entry are closed.


Third-Party Netflix Sites