In a move which would have been met with utter delight if I still proudly said I was a student, Internet retailer Amazon has launched a new scheme which will allow students to rent, rather than buy, textbooks.
Traditionally, students often have to purchase expensive textbooks, and then once their course is completed, sell them back to stores or to other people at a marginal rate. It's nigh on impossible to claw back a fair amount of the money you've spent on now expensive doorstops, and more often than not, the books become useless as new editions come out for the next student intake.
Instead, by renting them, the company believes that the new scheme could save students up to 70 percent of this expenditure.
It works through a standard Amazon search. Find the book you want, select "Rent Now", choose shipping and payment, and then head to check out. At the end of the rental period, you return the book for free through a prepaid, printable label. The due dates are stored in your Amazon account, and for those with a sieve memory, the company will send you reminders as the day approaches.
The book you rent may be a new or used copy, depending on availability. If you decide you want to keep it, then you can buy the book outright after rental.
Ripley MacDonald, Director of Textbooks at Amazon.com said:
"College is expensive, and students are always looking for ways to save money on textbooks, which is why we've long offered great prices on both new and used textbooks. With Textbook Rental, Amazon gives students yet another great option for saving money -- it's now easier than ever for students to get the books they need, in the format they want, at affordable prices. So no matter if a student wants to buy or rent their textbooks, Amazon can be their one-stop shop."
If you're notorious for covering textbooks in neon colors and scribbles, this isn't completely out of the question. Amazon says "as a courtesy to future customers, we ask that you limit your writing and highlighting to a minimal amount," so a few lines here and there are acceptable -- but if you return the book covered in beer stains and doodles, the company may charge you full price for the book after shipping it back to you.
Unfortunately, Amazon's textbook rental service is only currently available to students in the U.S. However, if it proves a success perhaps students in the UK and Europe may be able to eventually take advantage of the program.