Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 28
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
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Get Your Movies Morning, Noon, and Night: The Library’s Redbox Is Ready to Go

Ellen Gilbert

Yearning to watch He’s Just Not That Into You at 3 a.m.? Need a Clint Eastwood fix to make your day?

Fear not: the Princeton Public Library’s Redbox is ready to go.

Located near the driveway at the rear of the library, the $1-a-night DVD dispensing machine contains, for the most part, new releases, and is intended to be, in library director Leslie Burger’s words, “a complement to the wonderful DVD collection we already have.”

By not having to buy multiple copies of in-demand new movies, the library saves money that can be used to purchase more foreign language films, “indie” productions, and TV series. In exchange for providing a location and power, the library is receiving three cents on every dollar spent on a Redbox DVD. The library had been earning between $60,000-$70,000 a year on DVD rentals. The fact that new titles in the library have been subject to theft was another consideration.

“The decision to go with the Redbox pilot was not driven by the promise of revenue, although any additional revenue these days is a good thing!” said Ms. Burger. “Offering multiple copies of popular DVDs in an outdoor location, at a low cost, means that our customers will have a convenient source of entertainment 24/7.”

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. Other area Redbox sites in the Princeton area include McCaffrey’s and ShopRite.

The library’s arrangement is for a six-month trial period, and Ms. Burger noted that with time, the contents of the library’s Redbox might be fine-tuned in response to patrons’ preferences. As of last week, titles in the library’s Redbox included Fired Up, Thin Ice, Gran Torino, Ink Heart, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and “The Bug Club episode of Sid the Science Kid.

Circulation Desk regular Tom Hamel reported that no one had asked about how to use the latest technological addition to the library’s services. “It’s self-explanatory,” he said of Redbox, which he himself appreciates for its children’s video offerings and return-anywhere convenience.

The Redbox website is

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