Amazon enters textbook rental market with Kindle Textbook Rentals

Textbook Rental Kindle

Amazon’s Kindle Textbok Rental Store

Amazon is entering the textbook rental landscape by launching their Kindle Rental program today.  Amazon’s textbook buyback credit program is doing very well with their high prices, but they are very late to the online textbook rental market dominated by players like BookRenter and Chegg.  However, never discount Amazon which is willing to lose money on items or in a new market to gain market share.  They have been heavily marketing to college students with their Amazon Student Savings Program which offers free two day shipping on the millions of textbooks available at Amazon.  Amazon is claiming to save college students up to 80% if you rent textbooks on the Kindle.

Nothing new with how much renting textbooks online for college can save students – so does Amazon offer anything new versus the established online book rental companies or other electronic textbook companies like Kno?  The program apparently allows college students rent books from 30 to 360 days, which is nothing new, and that thousands of textbook titles are immediately available from top higher education publishers like Elsevier, Taylor&Francis, and John Wiley & Sons – again nothing new.  Amazon is allowing students to store highlighted content and book notes in the Amazon cloud, even after the textbook rental period has expired which is a new twist, but how useful?  Kindle textbooks are supposedly in a format that can be read on a variety of mobile platform via Amazon’s Kindle reading apps.

Well, let’s see Amazon:

1) College students can control their online book rental time period – nothing new

2) Textbook rentals can save students up to 80% versus new textbooks – nothing new

3) Electronic textbooks can be viewed and read on a variety of devices – nothing new

4) Offering thousands of books for rent online – nothing new

5) Students can save notes and highlighted content in the Amazon cloud – new, but useful?

The RentScouter team is not amazed by the Kindle Textbook Rental Program, but considering Amazon’s aggressive pricing tactics this could result in great textbook rental prices for college students.

How does Amazon’s textbook rental program compare to some of the others out there:

NOOKStudy – You get a free seven day trial period before you have to purchase or rent your school book for 180 days.  This is a more comprehensive offering versus Kindle Book rentals as it offers students a hub to digitize their schedule, store notes, homework, or class schedule information.  However, it isn’t currently available on mobile platforms.

Kno – Textbooks on the iPad, what else needs to be said?  Well, it is a good start, but we have reported that students still prefer printed textbooks almost 9 to 1.  However, as we covered Kno has some unique features in their quest for offering cheap textbooks online including social sharing – “WTF”.  Perhaps a great program, but no option for Window OS users at this time.

Inkling – The app is free and you can rent college books by chapter online instead of having to buy the entire textbook.  Great concept, but again limited to the iPad and their library has less than 1,000 book titles currently – we hope it grows.

Chegg’s eBooks – What does one of the leader’s in traditional college textbook rentals offer?  An online only service with a good selection of school book titles, but limited to PC users only.

Your best bet is probably still a textbook rental, but electronic texbook options are growing rapidly and offer promise in the coming years.