Amazon Announces Launch of Textbook Rental Service

The online retailer offers a new option for students who want to rent each semester.

Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, is now offering a textbook rental service for college students.

Students looking for cheaper alternatives to purchasing textbooks can now consider renting from the world's largest online retailer. On August 6, Amazon announced a new textbook rental service that will allow college students to obtain books for a semester.

Amazon joins a crowded textbook rental space, where book retailer Barnes & Noble has, for some time, offered rental textbooks, and websites such as Chegg and BookRenter have devoted their businesses to textbook rentals.

[How to find cheap college textbooks.]

According to Amazon's FAQ page, the online retailer will allow students to use a textbook for up to 130 days, although it offers one 15-day extension for an extra cost. Students are responsible for standard shipping on the delivery of the textbook, but Amazon covers the cost of returning it.

During the 2010-2011 school year, full-time students spent an average of $655 on required course materials, according to the National Association of College Stores. Amazon says its rental service can potentially save students up to 70 percent off the original retail price of a textbook.

"College is expensive, and students are always looking for ways to save money on textbooks," said Ripley MacDonald, Amazon's director of textbooks, in a press release. "So no matter if a student wants to buy or rent their textbooks, Amazon can be their one-stop shop."

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Corrected on : Corrected 8/13/12: A previous version of this article incorrectly noted the average students spend annually on course materials.