I’ve got a secret way you can get free books, movies, and music, that’s totally legal and totally free. I’m not sure why the RIAA, book publishers, and Hollywood don’t have a problem with this, but apparently they don’t since I’ve never heard a peep from them about it. It’s totally legit, and it’s been going on for well over a hundred years in the United States. It’s your local public library. Since I found out about it we don’t rent movies anymore, we don’t buy books, and…well, I still buy music, because there is that one catch with libraries in that you have to eventually return whatever you get from them.
The great thing about the Salt Lake County library system is that all the libraries are connected, and you can reserve things online. So every now and then I’ll hear of a movie I want to see or a book I want to read and so I go to the online library system, log in, and I can search through all the libraries in the county. 99% of the time they have the book or movie I’m interested in. I click a button to reserve it, the system tells me where I’m at in line (I’m often first in line, although there are 250+ people in the queue waiting for the HBO series on John Adams), and then when the book or movie is delivered to my local library I get an email telling me so, and I go and pick it up.
When it comes to movies, there are only a few cons to this system. First of all, they don’t have the same selection at my local Draper Library that they do at the local Hollywood Video. However, the entire county system has a much larger selection…I just have to reserve the movie ahead of time and wait for it to come in. This means if you get a wild hair to watch a movie one night, the chance that it’s at your local library is fairly slim. The chance they have some movie you would be interested in seeing is much better. But my method is to reserve all the movies I’m interested in watching, and then watching them based on when they come in. It’s a small attitudinal adjustment, but it works for me.
The other con is that I’ve had a lot of issues with scratched or otherwise damaged DVDs. Then again, I’ve had that problem with Hollywood Video as well, and while it’s frustrating to go the library, pick up a movie, come home to watch it, and then find out it can’t be played because someone’s 3-year old rubbed it all over the kitchen floor, at least you’re not out any money, and you probably picked up five other DVDs at the same time so you can just watch one of the others. I can attest due to personal experience that it’s much more frustrating to wander around Hollywood Video for an hour trying to decide what to watch, you finally get something which you pay $5 for, only to get home and have it not work, and you don’t have anything else to watch because you weren’t going to pay for another five movies just as backup options. Then you go back to Hollywood, get a different copy, bring that home, and that one’s scratched too. Trust me, once you get used to the library system you’ll wonder why anyone rents movies anymore, other than in emergency situations.
The Salt Lake County library system has had virtually every book or movie I’ve ever tried to check out. When a new movie comes out like The Dark Knight they buy 40-50 copies because they know they’re going to be in high demand, and they get their copies not too long after Hollywood does. I can only think of one or two cases out of perhaps 200 when the system has not had a book I wanted, and in those cases it was generally an obscure title. But even then, you can request that they buy the book and they will, and then they’ll tell you once they’ve got it in the system.
Perhaps the library system where you live works the same way as the one where I live. If so, I recommend you take a closer look. You might be able to save a little wad of cash every month.