Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 52
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
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Library Board Approves Six-Month Trial of DVD Dispensing Machine

Ellen Gilbert

At its monthly meeting last week, the Princeton Public Library Board of Trustees approved a six-month trial of an outdoor Redbox, a $1-a-night DVD dispensing machine that would be located near the driveway at the rear of the library. The only other Redbox site in Princeton right now is at McCaffrey’s supermarket, with others nearby at the Skillman and Route One Shoprites, Wegmans, and the Princeton Junction Acme.

Redbox was founded in 2002 by Coinstar, a subsidiary of McDonalds. There are currently 12,000 kiosks in locations around the U.S. Each contains 500 DVDs, representing 125 titles which are changed on a weekly basis. Users can order their titles online before picking them up at a Redbox kiosk, where they pay for them using a credit or debit card. Redbox DVDs can be returned to any Redbox location, with the originating site getting credit for the rental.

In exchange for providing a location and power, the library will receive three cents on every dollar spent on a Redbox DVD. At Tuesday’s meeting, Media Librarian Barbara Silberstein described how Redbox’s presence would relieve the library of having to buy multiple copies of fleetingly popular new films, enabling them to purchase more foreign language films, “indie” productions, and TV series.

Several board members questioned whether the modest amount of money the Redbox arrangement could potentially accrue — $500 at most — made it a worthwhile proposition. Treasurer Ira Fuchs suggested that it might actually be a money-losing venture. The library currently earns between $60- and $70,000 a year on its DVD rentals, and some concern was expressed about whether the availability of Redbox DVDs might cut into this revenue stream. There was also a question about whether the box’s proposed location would cause a bottleneck.

Acknowledging that it provided a potential community service and might increase the breadth of the library’s own DVD collection, the board ultimately approved a six-month trial of the Redbox system.


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