College Students Rejoice! Amazon Now Rents Textbooks, Too


Photo: Judit Klein/Flickr

Everything about college is expensive but when it comes to textbooks the costs are astronomical.Amazon has joined a growing list of online book sellers doing something about it.

Amazon will now rent the textbooks and save students up to 70% over the cost of buying them.

To rent, students simply select the “rent now” option. Amazon ships the book and at the end of the rental period, students return the book with a free prepaid, printable label. If you rent enough of them, even shipping is free.

Renting textbooks isn’t a completely original idea. Chegg also rents physical textbooks, too at up to 70 per cent off. It sells new and used textbooks — which means it also buys used textbooks from students. 

Santa Clara, CA, startup Kno rents textbooks, too — and not just for college students, but for K-12. However Kno specialises in e-books that are read with an iPad app or a Web browser. 

And the rental business isn’t completely new for Amazon either. Students are eligible to sign up for a special half-priced version of Amazon Prime, called Amazon Student. For a $39 membership fee, the student gets access to Prime instant videos and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which includes some electronic textbooks. 

eBay’s is another site that will rent physical textbooks.

One day, all college classes will probably use e-books. But today, most of them still require the old-fashioned printed kind — often priced at $100-$400 a pop.

With rental programs like these, maybe textbook publishers will be nudged to get themselves out of the last millennium and offer more affordable (yet highly profitable) electronic options.

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