Amazon textbook rental now extends to hardcopies

Textbook

Amazon textbook rental has been expanded to include actual books. Photo Credit: Dhscommtech/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

There is no bigger pain in the neck for student than buying textbooks, mostly due to the enormous and usurious expense. However, Amazon wants to do the nation’s students a solid, by expanding the Amazon textbook rental program to hardcopy books.

Amazon textbook rental in the time of textbook inflation

Textbooks are one of the biggest pains in the backside when it comes to college expenses. Aside from the already ample installment loans one has to take to pay for tuition, room and board and so on, one also has to buy textbooks, which are a usury in excess of what is thought of as excessive usury.

The typical student is estimated by The College Board, a non-profit foundation that tracks college expenses, to spend $1,168 per year on books, according to SmartMoney magazine, at a four-year public university. Private school students pay a little more, at $1,213 per year.

Not only that, but they are getting more expensive. According to a 2005 study by the Goverment Accountability Office, the price of textbooks rose by 186 percent between 1986 and 2004. Tuition and fees rose, by comparison, 240 percent. Core inflation was a scant 72 percent.

However, the new Amazon textbook rental program may offer students a helping hand.

Save big on hardcopy for those sans Kindle

There already is an Amazon textbook rental program, according to TechCrunch, but it’s only for Kindle users. Just like Kindle book rentals, students pay much less than what they would for buying a digital copy of the book and get temporary access to said text. However, the website, in its wisdom, has expanded textbook rentals to include hard-copy book. Renting a textbook through Amazon gets the student the book for 130 days, after which time they have to ship it back to Amazon.

Savings should be significant over school bookstore prices for textbooks, as Amazon estimates most students will save about 70 percent. The savings for the Kindle textbook rental are closer to 80 percent in some cases, but naturally there is more labor and so forth involved in transporting physical goods.

The renting student will have to pay for the initial shipping, unless they are ordering a book that costs more than $25 to rent and have signed up for Amazon Prime. They will not have to cover return shipping, though.

May not be new

The books will not necessarily be in new condition, but a customer who isn’t satisfied with the textbook they receive through the Amazon textbook rental will be able to get a full refund if they return it in 30 days.

There is also a late fee, just like through any library. If a book is delayed in being returned to Amazon, the company will assess a 15-day late fee. If the book still isn’t returned, the charge goes up to the full cost of the textbook.

Bear in mind, though, that there are other ways to rent textbooks. Barnes and Noble and Chegg.com also have textbook rental programs, so students should definitely shop around to get the best deal. Some college libraries may stock some textbooks, so one can always look into that. They can also simply Xerox all the relevant pages they might need and, of course, there is always Craigslist.

Sources

SmartMoney

GAO (PDF – Requires Adobe Reader)

TechCrunch

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