Amazon launches Kindle textbook rentals

Kindle textbook rentals will allow students to rent Kindle versions of textbooks for short periods of time and at a low, low price.

Renting a digital text can save students as much as 80 percent over the price of buying a dead-tree book.

Just in time for the onset of back-to-school season, Amazon is offering a service sure to help students’ wallets – and their backs.

On Monday, Amazon announced that it will begin renting digital textbooks via Kindle Textbook Rentals.

The e-textbooks should go a long way toward reducing students’ monstrous textbook bills each semester. Renting a digital text can save as much as 80 percent over the price of buying a dead-tree book, according to Amazon Kindle vice president Dave Limp.

“Students tell us that they enjoy the low prices we offer on new and used print textbooks,” Mr. Limp said. “Now we're excited to offer students an option to rent Kindle textbooks and only pay for the time they need – with savings up to 80 percent off the print list price on a 30-day rental."

Kindle Textbook Rentals allows students to pay based on how long they want to use textbooks, with periods ranging from 30 to 360 days.

And you don’t have to own a Kindle to use the service. Rented Kindle Textbooks can be read on many devices, including iPads, smartphones, PCs or Macs, iPod touch devices, and Blackberry, Windows Phone, and Android-based devices.

This comes following news that South Korea will be the first country to replace paper textbooks with electronic tablets and digitized texts in all state-run schools by 2015.

Thanks to partnerships with leading publishers including John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier, and Taylor & Francis, tens of thousands of digitized texts are available for the 2011 school year at

There’s more good news for doodlers. Students who rely on margin notes and highlights as a study aid will be happy to know those markings will be saved on servers in the “Amazon Cloud” to let them access the notes and highlights anytime, and when they rent works again, according to Limp.

“We're extending our Whispersync technology so that you get to keep and access all of your notes and highlighted content in the Amazon Cloud, available anytime, anywhere – even after a rental expires,” says Limp. “If you choose to rent again or buy at a later time, your notes will be there just as you left them, perfectly Whispersynced.”

Who knows, perhaps Amazon will induce junior to finally take notes?

Husna Haq is a Monitor contributor.

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