Amazon has unveiled a new plan for its popular Kindle service, and this time it directly targets students. Textbooks are one of the biggest financial burdens students face as they transition from high school to college. Often, textbook prices aren’t covered by financial aid or can exceed the cost of a student’s living quarters for the first month. Thankfully, the proliferation of electronic media has grown to a point where textbooks are beginning to be allowed for use by students in electronic form rather than traditional print publication. The downside is that prices continue to remain very high for textbooks most often required by courses.
Amazon has created a way for students to rent electronic textbooks for a significant discount over the purchase price. After all, when do you crack open your college textbooks after the class is over?
With a promised discount of up to 80%, Kindle Textbook Rental allows students to rent electronic licenses for the textbooks they need for a period between 30 and 360 days. If they need the book for longer than expected, they can increase the rental period for as little as a single day at an adjusted rate.
For example, a physical copy of a textbook might run $190 and the Kindle edition could go for about $110. If you decide to rent, you can get this book for as little as $40 depending on how long you need it. Once the license expires, you simply lose access to the content until you renew. There’s no book reseller to contact or exchange program to enter.
Amazon does let you access — even after the rental period — your highlights and notes. Once your period expires, you are still able to access these should you need them for an assignment.
Personally, I believe that textbooks are far overpriced and should be priced comparatively with a non-fiction book of their size and print quality. Requiring students to pay extremely high premiums for a book in addition to their course fees only works to make life more difficult for students, especially ones who lack the financial backing to make these purchases possible. Amazon has done an impressive thing here by allowing students the ability to rent textbooks from it at a much lower rate.