Amazon Expands Textbook Rental Program to Print Books

In News by Edward Nawotka

By Publishing Perspectives

Amazon.com is giving struggling with the high cost of college textbooks yet another alternative textbook rental option, with the launch of its new print textbook rental program. This follows the launch of its digital textbook rental program last year.

According to Amazon’s textbook rental FAQ, students will be allowed to use a textbook for up to 130 days, with a 15-day extension available at extra cost. Students are responsible for standard shipping costs of the book; Amazon covers the costs of returning it. (Of course savvy students can also take advantage of free Amazon Prime membership for six months, which will offer them free two day shipping.) And while students are allowed a minimum amount of highlighting and writing in the textbook, if Amazon determines that the book is no longer in rentable condition, the student will be charged for the full purchase price (less rental fees) and the book will be returned.

Amazon says that the fees it is charging to rent the books can save students up to 70% compared with retail prices. According to the LA Times, for example, the 2011 textbook, Intermediate Accounting, by Donald E. Kieso is offered in both rental programs. A new hardcover copy of the book sells for $195.47. The rental fee is $57 for a print copy; $53.79 in digital.

“College is expensive, and students are always looking for ways to save money on textbooks,” said Ripley MacDonald, Amazon’s director of textbooks, in a press release. “So no matter if a student wants to buy or rent their textbooks, Amazon can be their one-stop shop.”

Amazon is not the first to offer print textbook rental services: companies such as Chegg and Bookrenter have built their businesses around textbook rentals. But then again, Amazon is Amazon, with everything that implies.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.