College students budgeting for the upcoming year might be happy to see that Amazon has announced the option to rent textbooks in Kindle format.
While it’s great to see another option coming to the textbook marketplace, early adopters of this method of acquiring textbooks will want to be careful.
Amazon says, ”Kindle Textbook Rental offers the ability to customize rental periods to any length between 30 and 360 days, so students only pay for the specific amount of time they need a book." This isn’t exactly true for every title. I checked rental fees for Kieso’s Intermediate Accounting, 13th edition, and the longest rental period offered by Amazon is $61.31 for 122 days.
The edition offered is another thing to watch. The most current edition of the Kieso text is the 14th. That edition is available in hardcover and a NOOKstudy format (for PC or Mac, not for the NOOK reader). Anyone renting will want to be sure to OK the edition with the professor before any return or trial periods end. Also make sure the professor doesn’t require any CD or other material that comes with the hardcover.
Pricing and availability for etextbooks still is all over the place, both for rental and purchase. For example, the NOOKstudy version of the Kieso book mentioned (newer 14th edition) is available to rent for $122.50 for 360 days. It seems like publishers are rushing to market and don’t have the kinks worked out. While students may find some value and convenience in etextbooks, the decision of what format to rent or buy is best made on a book-by-book basis.