Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Amazon's Kindle Textbook Rentals - Up to 80% off - UPDATE


Business Insider's Ellis Hamburger has a tabloid-type headline about Amazon wanting to kill bookstores all over again.  The earlier Google title for the page merely says,
"Amazon's New Kindle Textbook Rentals Will Save Students A TON Of Money‎."

That last part seems true.  You can see the details at the Amazon page for the Kindle Textbook Rental page, which is headlined "Save up to 80%..." and then explains that this would be "off the list price of the print textbook."

TIME.com considers this "Good News, Students..."

How Renting Works
  The shorter the rental, the less it costs.   The minimum-length rental is typically 30 days, and with that the savings are 80% off the list price.

  After that you pay for added days, and the Amazon page provides a calculator-box that shows you how much it would be for a date-range.  The maximum number of days is 360.
  Students can also choose to purchase the book they're renting at any time.

  "Read Once, Read Everywhere" - The textbooks can be read on Kindle reading apps for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android device, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry or, of course, on a Kindle.

  Amazon adds that "Tens of thousands of textbooks are available for the 2011 school year from leading textbook publishers such as John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier and Taylor & Francis."

  Annotations stay accessible - normally lost when a rented book is returned.
' "We've done a little something extra we think students will enjoy," continued [Dave Limp, vice president, Amazon Kindle].  "Normally, when you sell your print textbook at the end of the semester you lose all the margin notes and highlights you made as you were studying.

  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.   If you choose to rent again or buy at a later time, your notes will be there just as you left them, perfectly Whispersynced." '

Here's the page for Finding textbooks, which I left off yesterday but which is in tiny print on the Textbook Rental information page.

  I tried by entering 'chemistry' to see what they had.  The search results included hardcovers and paperbacks; however, they also have "Format" at the top left and you can choose "Kindle edition" -- which gives you books about types of chemistry you probably wouldn't have in mind.  But turn the page and there'll tend to be more relevant results

  I had MUCH BETTER RESULTS by typing "chemistry textbooks" (it seems to me they should have search logic for 'textbook' in a textbook search but they don't, maybe because not all textbooks are identified with that key word (I don't know).

  A good feature, by the way, in case you're assigned several textbooks, is the ability to enter at one time, one or more ISBN numbers, with dashes removed and ISBN numbers separated by a comma, space, or Return.

For daily free ebooks, check the following links:
Temporarily-free books -
- USA: by:
NEW:  May  June  July 2011
   Publication Date   Late-listed
   Bestselling   High-ratings

UK: PubDate   Popular
What is 3G? and "WiFi"?       Battery Care
Highly-rated under $1,  Newest: $1-$2, $2-$3
Most Popular Free K-Books
U.S. & Int'l (NOT UK):
   Top 100 free
   Top 100 free
USEFUL for your Kindle (U.S. only, currently):
  99c Notepad 1.1,   99c Calculator,
  99c Calendar,   99c Converter

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  1. Amazon needs to improve the discovery process. Presumably you are supposed to know the title of the book that is required for the coursework, but if one just wants to see which Kindle Editions are available for rental, there's no easy way to go about this (that I've been able to discover): going to Kindle Store offers only an undifferentiated 'Textbooks' category, while going to the Textbook store doesn't offer a way to filter by format.

    Best I've come up with so far is to use Google advanced search: 'asin kindle "rent from" site:amazon.com', which returns 'about 1920' results, most of which are amazon pages for these rental books. This doesn't let you drill down by category or sort, but it does give a sense of what is being offered on this basis and how attractive the offers are.

    For the most part it seems the offers are not that great, except when the Kindle Store price is more comparable to the print edition to begin with. For example, http://www.amazon.com/Strange-Histories-Walking-Medieval-Renaissance/dp/0415288606. The HC edition is $95, the Kindle edition is $14.55, the 'rent from' starts at $8.02. Who would not just go ahead and pay $14.55?

    But there are other examples where the Kindle Edition is priced at $30 or more and the 'rent from' price is 55% of that. Starts to make a little more sense then, particularly if it is something you can read in 30 days and don't need to refer to after that (or where your notes are sufficient).

  2. Tom,
    I think most textbooks for sale have the rental option.

    I did find that putting 'chemistry textbook' as two keywords to search got me far more relevant results... I just updated the page for that.

    They may have rushed this feature a bit. But when a teacher has assigned the textbooks, it becomes pretty easy, using the ISBN numbers, to see whether they're available or not and price details, etc.

    Thanks for exploring this.

  3. Although I think that the Textbook business for eReaders is exceptional and a long time in coming from Amazon, the ironic thing about this is that neither the Kindle 3 nor the Kindle DX do much to highlight a textbook and its strengths. It is the Kindle on the iPad that makes this deal more valuable. Leaving me to think that Amazon's real goal here was to just get ahead of the news before their tablet comes out. It is near impossible to read textbooks on a Kindle.


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