Kindle Textbooks: Saving Backs and Wallets Since 2011
Amazon recently announced that it would begin a rental program for Kindle-compatible textbooks. Students can rent books for between 30 and 360 days and only pay for the time used. Textbooks can be accessed on any device with a Kindle app and make use of note-taking and highlighting features. Students loading their books onto a Kindle can expect a happy back and happy wallet.
By David BenBassett, RTCRM
Digital textbooks have been around for a few years now, and their numbers keep increasing. Textbooks are dense and hard to read in print, and a backlit LCD computer screen doesn’t make them any easier on the eyes. Amazon is changing that, however, with new, rentable Kindle Textbooks. These are the first textbooks to be formatted for portable devices and e-ink screens, which means unlike their computer counterparts they’ll be in black and white. The important material, images included, remains scaled down to be extra portable. Amazon’s Whispersync™ allows users to highlight and take notes and upload them to the Web, which is a great feature for college students. These notes can be synced across any device with a Kindle app, so iPhones, iPads, and computers can access any previous notes and highlights. It’s important to point out that these notes remain in the Kindle cloud even after your rental expires, so if you want to refer to them at a later date you have that option. The storage space and portability of the Kindle make this a must-have for students who have to haul multiple 10-plus-pound books to class.
Not only will the load on your back be lighter, your wallet will be fuller. Amazon is boasting an 80% savings over regular print books. Users can set their rental period anywhere from 30-360 days and are charged based on the length of the period.1
For students used to paying upwards of $300 for books each semester, this could be a financial lifesaver. Implications and Action items
According to Amazon, “tens of thousands” of textbooks have been formatted for the Kindle (though I couldn’t personally find any of mine). My guess is that the intro-class books will be the first available. Regardless, here are some tips for students interested in saving their backs and banks:
- Go digital. Especially if you’re a freshman or sophomore, grab yourself a Kindle! The new ad-supported models are relatively inexpensive and I have a feeling more and more textbooks will start to show up on E-readers in the coming years.
- Shop smart. Look through the Kindle Store before you settle for print books. You never know what you might find, and you could end up saving yourself a lot of money.
- Take notes. As many as possible. You may have to “give back” your book at the end of the rental period, but you can access your notes forever on the Kindle website. The more notes you take, the more you’ll be able to reference in the future.
1 Engadget. “Amazon Rolls Out Textbook Rentals for Kindle, Promises Deals up to 80%,” July 18, 2011, http://tiny.cc/5zqs3