Thursday, November 09, 2006

And now, a consumerist interlude

This week the Washington Post profiled Goozex, a used video-game swapping service that aims to fetch gamers better value for their old games than they'd get selling them to retail used-games shops. It sounds like a good idea (gamers, check it out), but it's also a nice illustration of what I'm coming to think of as the yuppie subscription economy. (OK, I know "yuppies" is hopelessly '80s. What are we now? And if anyone suggests bobos, I break out the knives.)

I love the concept of libraries but am a poor user of them. Books are kind of a special case for me, since I choose to buy and hoard them, but for other media, the library concept is a great one -- borrow the things you don't feel compelled to own permanently. Like others in my peer group, though, I hate media-consumption deadlines. When I massively cleaned out my bedroom the summer before I first headed off for college, I found a few books that were overdue by years.

This is why I'm among the six million people subscribing to Netflix. I suspect I come out on the wrong end of this equation financially. I have the three-DVD plan and will go months at a time without sending anything back. I'm not paying for Netflix because it's cost effective. I'm paying for Netflix so I don't have to a) accumulate DVDs I'll only watch one or twice and don't want clogging up my living room, and b) don't have to remember what I owe the video store when.

Goozex seems tailored for people who are going to go through games rapidly. You get the freedom from return dates that comes with ownership, but you also get access to an exchange network so you can keep your media supply fresh. You're paying for the perk of your extended borrowing and access to new titles (you could make do for cheaper; some libraries will loan you older, less enticing video games for free these days), but you're not paying nearly as much as you would buying everything at new, retail price.

This kind of service seems very well suited to a certain demographic (ie: mine) that immerses in media and is willing to pay for convenience -- as iTunes demonstrates. I see them popping up all over. There's and GameFly, and loads of others, I imagine.


On a separate moneyspending note, my friend Ryan has brought his blog Just What I Wanted out of hiatus for the holiday season. It's a neat source of unusual gift ideas, many very affordably priced. And, unlike so many of the gift guides you'll start seeing in glossy mags as the Giftmas season gets going, the blog is noncommercial. Ryan spotlights the products he finds intriguing. Go benefit from his good taste :)