Called Kindle Textbook Rental, Amazon is renting apparently "tens of thousands" of digital books via its Kindle store. Students can rent the books for a time frame ranging from 30 to 360 days. If you don't own a Kindle, it's not a biggie, since the format is made available as app content, which means that the books can be displayed on anything ranging from a Blackberry to an iPad and a full-blown PC.
Amazon says that renting a book will be up to 80% cheaper than actually buying it, which could make it a better deal than buying a book at your school and then selling it back at the end of the year. The downside may be that you just can't use physical pens in such books. However, Amazon says that you can make notes and can access them at any time via Amazon Cloud, even when the book is already 'returned'.
"Students tell us that they enjoy the low prices we offer on new and used print textbooks. Now we're excited to offer students an option to rent Kindle textbooks and only pay for the time they need," said Dave Limp, vice president, Amazon Kindle. Amazon, of course, is not the only company to offer electronic textbook. Coursesmart claims to have more than 90 percent of core textbooks used in the North American Higher Education system in a digital format. Barnes&Noble also offers digital textbooks for download.