The economics of renewing library books

Preface: In the middle of writing this, I just realized that it is now free to renew your books for one time and that the library no longer imposes a charge of $0.50 per book per renewal. I already wrote the entire article (sigh) when I discovered this and thus it will be quite a waste to just dispose of it. So here it is, even though its no longer relevant.

I find it quite interesting to note that it makes more economic sense to renew your public library books (at least in Singapore) than to actually make your way down to the library to drop it off.

I have 3 books on loan right now and the cost to renew all 3 of time would be $1.50 @ $0.50/book. I stay some distance from the nearest public library and I’d need to take a bus in order to reach my destination. At the minimum fare needed to travel on the bus of $0.80, it would already cost me much more just to travel to the library both ways.

And we’re not even factoring the time-money cost but if we were to count it in at the average wage of about $15/hour, a single trip to the library including waiting time would take an average of about 15 minutes which would make the entire trip (through and fro) about 30 minutes.

Average hours of work a week: 46.2
Average hours of work a day (5 day work week): 9.24
Average number of hours work a month (20 days): 184.8
Average mean salary in Singapore: $4.089
(based on Ministry of Manpower’s 2010 statistics)

Amount of income an hour: Approx ~$22.10

This means, the process of just traveling to the library would cost you $11.05, making the actual process of returning your book to the library at $12.65.

Now doesn’t it make more economic sense to just continue renewing your books then?