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Amazon Launches Kindle Textbook Rental Service

Amazon, the maker of the Kindle e-reader, has launched a textbook rental service for the device and its associated apps. According to Amazon, thousands of textbooks will be available for the 2011 school year from major  names in textbook publishing like John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier, and Taylor & Francis.

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The Kindle textbook rentals can be customized for however long a student feels they’ll need the book, between 30-360 days. The price of the rental will increase the longer the book is rented. Rental time can also be extended if a student realizes they need the book longer than they thought. According to Amazon, renting e-textbooks instead of paying for paper copies could save students up to 80% off the list price of their books. However, the 80% figure is based on only a 30-day rental, and really, who uses a textbook for only one month out of a semester?

When you crunch the numbers, the cost of renting a book for a full semester doesn’t really come out to the 80% mark, but even so, the savings are still significant. For example, on Amazon the textbook Intermediate Accounting costs $109.20 for the print edition. According to the cost calculator on the book’s Amazon page, which lets you plug in dates and generates the approximate cost, the 30-day rental will run you $38.29. But, if the book were rented for the entire semester, say September to December (112 days), the cost would be $59.74. That’s almost half the cost of the print book ($49.46) in your pocket.

In addition to the textbook rental service, Amazon is also expanding its Whispersync technology, which will allow students to store notes and highlighted content in the Amazon Cloud. The notes would be available even after the specific textbook rental expires.

The Kindle textbooks will be accessible on Kindle devices in addition to Amazon’s free Kindle Reading Apps for PC, Mac, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android devices.

(via TechCrunch, photo via Flickr wohnai)

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