Back to School for Less: Amazon Launches Textbook Rentals

Amazon today (finally) launched its textbook rental program for the Kindle ecosystem of apps and tablets. With the new Kindle Textbook Rental program, students can now rent textbooks from publishers like John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier and Taylor & Francis for far less than the price of the physical textbook (with saving that can be as high as 80%). One nifty feature of Amazon’s program is that the pricing is flexible and based on how long you want to keep the book. Rental periods range from 30 days (for the highest savings) to 360 days (where the savings compared to a regular Kindle edition are often minimal).

kindle_rental_001Many students only need a specific book for a short period of time, so these short rental periods often make sense, especially given that Amazon now also syncs your notes to the cloud and keeps them available even after the rental period has ended.

Amazon, of course, is not the first company to enter this market. Indeed, it has actually taken the Seattle-based company quite a while to get into textbook rentals, which, given the popularity of its Kindle platform, is quite a surprise. Specialized startups like Chegg  and traditional book retailers like Barnes & Noble have long offered textbook rentals to students. Others, including Flat World Knowledge, are trying to make a dent in the market by offering customizable textbooks. Amazon argues that the fact that it’s saving your notes to the cloud and its availability on so many platforms gives it a leg up against the competition.


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