Amazon Launches Kindle Textbook Rental Service, Allows Students To Store Notes In The Cloud

Amazon is now allowing students to rent textbooks on their Kindle and Kindle apps. The e-commerce giant is launching Kindle Textbook Rental today, which allows students can save up to 80% off textbook list prices by renting textbooks from the Kindle Store.

Amazon says that students can customize rental periods between 30 and 360 days, so students only pay for the specific amount of time they need a book. And students can extend the rental time if they ened more time to use the textbook. The company says that “tens of thousands of textbooks” are available for the 2011 school year from publishers such as John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier and Taylor & Francis.

The company is also extending its Whispersync technology so that students can get to keep and access all of their notes and highlighted content in the Amazon Cloud, even after a rental expires.

Savings, says the company, amount to up to 80% off the print list price on a 30-day rental. For example, an accounting textbook costs $109.20 to buy the actual book, but starts at $38.29 to rent the textbook.

Kindle Textbooks can be read across both the Kindle devices and Amazon’s free Kindle Reading Apps for PC, Mac, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android-based devices.

I’m curious how much of a threat this service will be to textbook rental giants Chegg and BookRenter, which both allow students to rent hardcover and paperback textbooks at low prices. For example, Chegg has an e-book option that could be competitive to Amazon’s new service. Other startups like Kno and Inkling are trying their hand at the digital textbook arena.