Last year, Amazon launched electronic textbook rentals for Kindle users that promised to save students up to 80% of their textbooks’ list prices. Now, just in time for back-to-school season, the Seattle-based company has also launched a rental service for good old paper textbooks. This program, says Amazon, can save U.S. students up to 70% off the regular retail price, and students will be allowed to keep the books for 130 days.
Students, unless they sign up for Amazon Prime or order books worth more than $25, will have to pay for getting the books shipped to them, but Amazon will take care of the return shipping charges. Amazon doesn’t guarantee that the books will be new, though, but notes that students can return any books if they are not satisfied with within 30 days and receive a full refund.
Just like your college library, Amazon will also charge late fees for books that aren’t returned on time. The company will automatically extend the rental period for late books by 15 days and charge students a fee for this. After 15 days, it will charge the full purchase price.
It’s worth noting that other companies, including Barnes & Noble and Chegg.com, have long offered a similar service as well. Given the high prices of textbooks (even on Amazon, $150 per book isn’t unusual for some new textbooks, after all), renting textbooks is often a good option and a better deal than trying to sell books back to the campus bookstore after the semester is over. While e-textbook rental, whether from Amazon or its competitors, are often a bit cheaper than paper textbooks, many students still prefer a paper copy.