Friday Question of the Day – Metro, Movies, Retail and Books

Photo by PoPville flickr user jsmjr

A WMATA press release says:

Metro riders looking to pick up a movie on their way home will not have to go very far as the video store is coming to a Metrorail station as early as this fall.

Metro’s Board of Directors today (June 24) approved a license agreement with NCR/Blockbuster and Movie Solution to place DVD rental machines in stations and to allow Old Town Trolley Tours to sell tickets for its familiar green and orange trolley buses that provide sightseeing tours of Washington’s monuments and other points of interest.

In exchange for use of the Metrorail system for the rental of movies and sale of tour tickets, Metro will receive an estimated $928,000 over an eight-year period with guaranteed revenue of $116,000 in the first year.

NCR/Blockbuster will have DVD rental machines at three stations: the Gallery Pl-Chinatown (Verizon Center entrance), Metro Center and Pentagon City Metrorail stations. Movie Solution will have DVD rental machines located at 10 stations: the Farragut North (K Street entrance), Farragut West (17th Street entrance), Foggy Bottom, L’Enfant Plaza, Metro Center, Union Station (1st Street entrance), Bethesda, New Carrollton, Shady Grove and Rosslyn Metrorail stations. Old Town Trolley Tours will place ticket sales and information booths at both entrances of the Smithsonian Metrorail station.

“Retail services in stations will be good for riders and Metro, especially right now in this economy,” said Jim Graham, Chairperson of Metro’s Board Joint Development and Real Estate Committee.

Do you think the ability to rent movies at metro stations is a good idea?  For those looking for good movie rentals, we spoke about our favorites here. What other retail options do you think should be available in metro stations?

Photo by PoPville Flickr user D©Bloom

And completely unrelated – I’m looking for a good fun fiction book for next weekend if anyone has any recommendations. We spoke about favorite books back in Sept. ’08 but I’m looking for some current recommendations, if you have any good ones.

55 Comment

  • I like the idea… it shows forward thinking by Metro and provides another way for them to make money, but DVD kiosks look cheap, are tacky, and are bound to get vandalized. The money that they make leasing them will probably end up being spent replacing them.

    A MUCH better idea would be to lease ad space along the inside of the cars. It would raise much more capital and be a boon to local businesses. It would also look better than the drab beige interior we currently have.

  • Also, as far as books go: Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Saffron Foer. Hands down the best book I’ve read all year.

  • I have been saying there should be DVD rental shops in metro station for years. I think I have been saying it since the rentals were VCR tapes.

    It makes sense, pick a movie up on your way home, return it on your way in. Almost easier than netflicks.

  • i second the foer recommendation. aslo, i love reading gabriel garcia marquez in the summer.

  • I can’t think of any fiction to recommend right now – I’ve been reading more non-fiction lately. The second picture reminds me that I’m getting a little behind in my reading.

  • I just read “The Help” I love it.

    • really? i don’t mean that in any snarky way. that’s great you liked the book, but i think there’s going to be some widely varying opinions on what constitutes good literature.

    • Emmaleigh504

      Great book!

  • If you want a great can’t-put-it-down summer read, I recommend The Dark Fields. Not a new book, but recently became more prominent as it’s being made into a movie starring Bradley Cooper and Robert Deniro. I read it straight through in two days; from the first page I was totally captivating, really gripping. I also enjoyed Dark Places (in the whoddunit genre, but more literary) and Little Bee (very, very intense, bet powerful).

  • Anything that helps Metro get more revenue and doesn’t attract rats is OK by me. I still rent DVDs but won’t we all be downloading our movies from the internet soon?

    • 7 years from now these things will be generating very little revenue for metro, but we’ll still be stuck with the kiosks.

      • Agreed. If they had done this venture maybe 8 years ago then I would have been all for it. But 8 years from now, I think most movies will be streamed online. Heck I haven’t been to a video rental store in probably at least 7 years.

        We don’t even own a television we have a large computer monitor and computer set up in our living room. We stream everything and do the 1 movie per time on Netflix so we can get watch instantly. I do go to Redbox on occasion when I am visiting my sister in KS.

        They are about 10 years too late on this deal.

        • Yep, and Metro is desperate for cash and needs a big upfront payment. I’d be shocked if metro’s contract pays them absolutely nothing toward the end of the contract yet they’re still required to provide the service and possibly even pay for damage to the kiosks.

  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

    Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure (Hardcover) by Michael Chabon

    A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

    and not current recommendations but may be new to someone else:

    Into Thin Air by Jon Karkauer
    The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
    Naked by David Sedaris
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    Marathon Man by William Goldman
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

  • The Gallery by John Horne Burns

    The Danzig Trilogy by Gunter Grass– The Tin Drum, Cat and Mouse, Dog Years

    Anything by Philip Kerr, but start with the Berlin Noir Trilogy– March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Requiem

    The Steig Larsson Trilogy- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

    • Second The Steig Larsson Trilogy- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

      Stole the first one from my Mom to read on the train, immediately went out and bought the other two. I have barely put them down since.

  • Definitely a good idea. Seems revenue is hard to come by these days.

    And, I always find Vonnegut perfect for summertime reading. And I Just Want My Pants Back by David Rosen was my most recent fun read.

    (captcha: force debasing)

  • Is it safe? Is it safe?

    Thanks for mentioning Marathon Man on the same day I have a dental appointment — sheesh :)!

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    The Girl who Played with Fire
    The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest

    by Steig Larsson

    I haven’t read the last one yet, but it just came out recently.

    The first two are great fun, but kind of make you want to not do anything else for awhile. . . that is if you are in to a good mystery.

    Also, in the same vein but older, the Inspector Rebus series by Ian Rankin. There are, I think, 17 books in the series. The first few are pretty good, and then they get REALLY good.

    Again, all this is only if you like a good mystery. A real mystery with real characters that makes you think.

  • Certainly easy to return videos that way.

  • Pynchon – Inherent Vice. Detective story.

  • For books, it is non-fiction but I highly recommend Finding Chandra which details the Chandra Levy case. I absolutely tore through this book but I must admit to bias as the woman lived across the hall from me at the time of her disappearance.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I’m a fan of Scott Westerfeld. Sure he writes YA books, but the are fun to read. The Uglies series and So Yesterday are some of my favorites.

  • Not new, but classic and hysterical: A Confederency of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

    Metro should have drycleaners.

  • Oscar Wao was an AMAZING read. All of the elements of a good book. Third that recommendation!

  • Second the recommendation of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

    Also, Let the Great World Spin by Column McCall was fantastic.

  • Do that many people still go out and rent DVDs Blockbuster-style? It’s hard to imagine, with the advent of Netflix, video on-demand and online purchasing/streaming.

    • It’s sad but on demand has weaseled it’s way into my decision process.

      I’m too lazy to set up a netflix account and I’m still looking for a HTPC that meets my needs.

  • POP–Drop everything and read (if you haven’t already) Geek Love by Katherine Dunn! I read it two years ago and people would stop me and tell me how they read the book 10 years ago and how much they loved it. I had a lot of great conversations with people over this book.

    • A hearty second for Geek Love. Awesome book. Also, anything by Philip K Dick. What a visionary!

      Also, who’s the chick in the second photo? What a hottie, at least from behind! And she reads (or at least likes to look at books in a window)!

      • Yeah great photo. That’s why I said I was “getting a little behind in my reading” in my earlier post. 🙂

    • Emmaleigh504

      I think I’m the only person in the world who did not like Geek Love. People just rave about that book.

  • I’m looking forward to reading The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva. It’s not out to July, and I probably have about ten people ahead of me who pre-requested it from the library (I rarely buy books even though I read quite a bit.)

    Too bad there’s no new George Pelecanos book out this summer.

    I’ve been getting into Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books (silly at times, but fun to read) and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books. I’m trying to read them in the order they were published, occasionally picking one up from the library.

  • For me, summer means one thing: rock star biographies, and related books.

    I’m currently finishing up When Giants Walked the Earth, by Mick Wall. It’s the latest Led Zeppelin bio. LOVE LOVE LOVE Zeppelin. It’s fat and juicy, and includes photos and gory details, including a relatively lengthy section on Jimmy Page’s occult leanings. Damn, it’s a fun read.

    I’m chomping at the bit to get started on Stairway to Hell. It’s fiction, written by a guy named Charlie Williams. It’s about a dude named Rik Suntan, who is a local pub singer who is operating under the notion that, when he was an infant, Jimmy Page swapped Rik’s soul with that of David Bowie. Hilarity ensues.

    Also, if you’re up for something that will make you want to bleach your eyes when you’re finished with it, I heartily recommend The Dirt. It’s about Motley Crue. I’m not a big fan of the band, aside from Dr. Feelgood, but I love that book.

    Have a great summer everyone! Happy reading!

  • Empire Falls, by Richard Russo
    The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, by Brady Udall

  • it’s not a new book and it’s not fiction, but if you’re looking for a quick and interesting read, check out “Cork Boat” by John Pollack. i don’t know if the author still lives in dc, but he built the boat right in mt. pleasant!

  • First, good idea by metro..but they screw themselves again with their barginning. Streaming may be the majority in 8 years, but there still will be a need for dvds. Not everyone in DC has/or will have the ability to stream movies. Metro screwed up with the terms. 8 year deal? 1 million? First why didn’t they open it up to Redbox and have a bidding war? Blockbuster seems to be headed for bankruptcy (good, i hate them, they brought selfishness, money before customers, greet to a all time high). The metro only got 1 million for 8 years, which to me sounds extremely low. Granted I don’t know how these negotiations work. But I think I would have done one year contracts and had a negotiation period after each year. I think Blockbuster stands to make a good profit off this deal. I don’t think Metro realizes the number of eyes(potential customers) travel through their doors daily. They could do so much more..”The Target Red Line, The McDonalds Orange Line” Cheap, but would help close that gap.

    For looking for a good deep book or just a beach read.

    Dirk Pitt for the latter, anything by wallace stagner for the former.

  • Just finished Bite Marks by Terrance Taylor about vampires in 1980s downtown NY. I liked it way more than I thought I would.

    Currently reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert which is an interesting looking at marriage weaving her personal store with an exploration of the Western marriage tradition. I’m quite enjoying it.

    Before that I read Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Mockett. A lovely multigenerational story about Japanese and Japanese-American women.

    that’ll do.
    when you’re done, read it again.

  • Best book I’ve read recently is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It’s mystery/magical realism similar to Garcia Marquez. Very hard to put down. And thanks to everyone for the summer reading list!

  • When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson is what I’m reading right now. I bought it out of desperation at the airport, and am pleasantly surprised with how good it is. It is as well written as it is entertaining.

    • Chalk–I’m reading this right now, too! I like it a lot and am hoping the last 50 or so pages live up to the rest.

      Other suggestions…
      * Whatever it Takes–Paul Tough (about improving children’s lives in Harlem)
      * Take this Bread–Sara Miles
      * “Friday Night Lights” and “A Prayer for the City”–Buzz Bissinger
      * Tracy Kidder, especially his earlier stuff (up to and including Mountains Beyond Mountains)
      * “Ex Libris” and “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down”–Anne Fadiman. Totally different–a collection of essays about reading, and a medical anthropology of a Hmong-American girl with epilepsy, but both are great.

      * The Time-Traveler’s Wife–Niffeneger
      * Fried Green Tomatoes–Fannie Flagg
      * Joy Comes in the Morning–Jonathan Rosen
      * “She’s Come Undone” and “I know this Much Is True”–Wally Lamb
      I’ll third the Safran Foer suggestions. Love him.

      Also, everything by Perri Klass, who writes fiction and nonfiction about bein a doctor.

  • I’ve read two fantastic novels this year, and recommend both highly: Tom Rachman’s “The Imperfectionists” and Sam Lipsyte’s “The Ask.” “The Ask” is undoubtedly more “fun,” but “The Imperfectionists” is the better “novel,” if it can accurately be called that, since its more or less a collection of connected stories from people associated with an English language newspaper published in Europe. In fact, Brad Pitt’s production company has already purchased the rights to “TI,” so you’ll be seeing it in movie theaters in about three years…

  • It’s not quite light summer reading, but I just finished Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes and it was fantastic. Not always very well-written, but he seems to have captured all of the contradictions of that war in 600 pages. The Lotus Eaters, by Tatjana Soli, also is about the war; it’s very different from Matterhorn but fantastic in its own way.

    Anything by Walter Moers – currently reading Rumo – is a fun read.

    A friend got me hooked on The Hunger Games by Suzanne Colins. Young adult fiction but totally engrossing.

  • Great idea!! Good to see local businesses like Movie Solution getting contracts with Metro

  • I am reading Dave Cullen’s newish book about Columbine, it reads like a novel but its completely nonfiction and explains a lot about the myths that the media perpetuates. Its been great.

    The Hour I first believed by Wally Lamb is an absolute page turner, despite the fact its like a million pages i finished it in a a day and a half.

    Also just read Honeymoon with my Brother by Fritz something its a great summer travelogue

  • Along with the other great books previously recommended (I love Jasper Fforde’s Tuesday Next books, also second recommendation for Little Bee)

    Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools
    The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
    The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar

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