Your local college textbook store now has another competitor – and it’s a big one. Amazon has just begun to allow students to rent print textbooks for what they say can be up to 70% of the sale price. I specify “print,” because Amazon already lets students rent Kindle textbooks.
Amazon textbook rentals work in a similar fashion to other textbook rental services like Chegg. Students can pay a percentage of the book’s price and keep it for an entire semester (130 days, specifically). When the semester’s over and you’re so sick of looking at it that you want to burn it, you can ship it back to Amazon for free.
This is a new service from Amazon, as the “Rent your textbooks” option just began to appear on the “Textbooks” homepage. But the “rent” option is already starting to appear for textbooks across the site:
This $154 textbook is available for rent for $44. Of course, buying it at your brick and mortar college bookstore would most likely run your over $200.
At any time during the rental period, if you decide that you just can’t live without it, you can always buy the textbook for the full price.
Students who are scribblers, beware. It looks like it’s up to Amazon to determine whether or not they can charge you the full price of the book for excessive highlighting:
As a courtesy to future customers, we ask that you limit your writing and highlighting to a minimal amount. If we determine that the book is no longer in acceptable rental condition when you return it, including because of excessive writing or highlighting, you will be charged the full purchase price, less any rental fees and extension fees you have already paid, and we will ship the book back to you to keep.
Amazon also says that you may receive either a new or used textbook for your rental – depending on availability.
While this may not be the nail in the coffin for college brick and mortar bookstores, it could be the framing of the coffin. As more online properties get into this business, the traditional model of paying a ridiculously high price for something you use for a couple of months and selling it back for a fraction of what you originally paid will go by the wayside. Good riddance.