Amazon Launches Textbook Rental Service

College students can save up to 70% off the retail price on print textbooks with Amazon.com’s new renting program

With the fall semester just a few short weeks away for many college students, Amazon’s announcement is more than a load off their heavy bookbag-toting shoulders.

The e-commerce company, which last year started offering rental textbooks for Kindle users, today, announced they would begin rolling out a rental service for students to save on old-fashioned textbooks. Amazon’s latest service allows students to shop for either new or rental books.

Customers can keep the books for up to 130 days, the average duration of a college semester. If more time is needed, students can request a 15-day extension for a fee. If a textbook is not returned by the requested date, the extension date and fee are automatically added. Amazon will charge the full purchase price if the book has not been returned by the end of that period, according to the company’s FAQ section.

Textbooks must be returned in “acceptable rental condition,” meaning a torn or taped cover, water damage, broken binding, smoke damage, and excessive writing or highlighting, among other conditions are unacceptable. However, renters can write in textbooks “a minimal amount,” according to the company.

Renters will need to provide shipping costs, but can ship textbooks back at no extra cost. Students with Amazon Prime membership or order more than $25 will have their shipping fees waived.

The textbook rental business is giving traditional book stores a run for their money. With the price of textbooks continuing to increase, a growing number of companies like Barnes & Noble, Chegg, and eBay’s Half.com are giving students the option to rent their books. In January, Apple started selling digital textbooks through its iBookstore.

 

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