Amazon.com Textbook Rentals Review 2017 – How Do They Stack Up

2017 Update: You can currently get a pretty nice discount at Amazon.com on Textbook Rentals automatically by clicking here.

Being a college student is not only stressful come exam season, but also terribly expensive. While tuition fees are excellent at depleting bank accounts, there’s also another costly factor when it comes to post-secondary education—textbooks. There’s no doubt that these study materials play a significant part of a student’s learning process; however it’s also an established fact that these books tend to be ridiculously pricey. Looking at statistics, it’s not uncommon for individuals to have to spend an extra $1000 on textbooks per year—that’s a staggering amount! On top of that, it looks like the prices of books won’t be lowering anytime soon; if anything, they’re only going to keep rising for the next few years, based on past trends. Considering this, is it even possible for a student to go through college without having to shell out thousands of dollars?

The answer to that is yes. In fact, if you’ve ever been a college student yourself, you’re probably well aware of the used textbook market. A popular option for those who’d rather not pay list prices for their study materials, buying used copies can be significantly cheaper than purchasing them retail at the campus bookstore—we’re talking about upwards of $100 in savings. Pre-loved textbooks can be acquired in a number of ways; typically they can be found at the used section of your local bookstore. Another possibility is for you to purchase it directly from a previous student; textbook buy and sell groups are a thing—you can easily find the books that you need on sites such as Facebook or even your local Craigslist. Sometimes if you’re lucky, the used copy may even come complete with notes! The bottom line is, buying second-hand texts can save you a large amount of hard earned money. Why pay so much for something that you’ll only flip through at the most, a couple of times, anyways?

However there’s actually another option for those college goers who are cost-conscious—have you heard of textbook rentals? With textbook rentals, you don’t have to own the book. This means that, you don’t have to go through the hassle of trying to sell it back out to another student to recuperate the amount which you’ve spent to buy it in the first place. You’ll only be borrowing it for a set period of time (usually the length of the semester, give or take a bit), after which you will be returning it. Similar to a library system, the only catch to it is that you do have to pay a small rental fee in order to use it. However, in contrast to the costly purchase prices, the amount required for renting a textbook is generally fairly tame; in most cases, it will only be a fraction of the retail price.


While some campus bookstores may offer rental services, the selection tends to be mediocre at best; there’s usually only a limited amount available for rental as stores tend to like to maximize profits by selling factory sealed versions. Luckily for us, there are many online websites out there that provide the same service (more often than not, with free shipping!). In this article, we’ll be discussing about a textbook rental site that most of us probably knows very well—Amazon.com! 

General Overview of Amazon.com

amazon2The question should be, who hasn’t heard of Amazon? Founded over two decades ago in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, the Seattle based company was originally established as an e-commerce website for the purposes of online shopping. Currently recognized as the largest retailer on the web based on total sale amounts, Amazon has come a long way since its humble beginnings back in the 1990’s. Not only do they sell almost everything that you’d need, but they’re also a marketplace for others to sell their own items. They have even created their own line of consumer electronics such as the Fire tablets, and the popular Kindle e-readers. In fact, they were listed as being the ninth most valuable company in the world as of 2016!

After years of being one of the internet’s best book retailers (they did start out selling paperbacks after all), Amazon came up with the idea of offering physical textbook rentals to its users four years ago, in 2012. With the new program, users are able to borrow textbooks from the company for periods of up to 130 days; they simply have to ship it back to the Amazon warehouse after their final exams are over. However as exciting as the announcement was at the time, it wasn’t actually an entirely new concept for the company—seeing as how they had began to rent out digital e-textbooks the year prior. Dedicated to offering students the best prices for their books, Amazon even extends its Prime benefits to textbook rentals; for students who are Prime members, expedited shipping is free!

How do I Rent a Textbook from Amazon.com?

amazon3In order to rent a book from the online giant, you first have to access their textbook page. To do so, go to Amazon.com and select “Books & Audible” under the Departments tap towards your left hand side; you’ll then be displayed a number of options- select “Textbooks.” Once you’re on their Textbook page, you can look for the text that you’re after by entering its title, ISBN or author into the search bar at the top; press “Go” or enter on your keyboard to proceed on to the next page.

Assuming that the information you’ve entered in previously was correct, the textbook that you’re trying to find should be displayed at the top of the list (sorted by title). Right off, you’ll notice that the prices for the book are listed underneath the author info; you’ll also notice that there are two distinct price tags—one for rentals, and another for purchases.

Should you have a preferred format that you’d like to rent, you can also filter for it specifically by clicking on the corresponding buttons towards the top (e.g. hardcover, kindle edition, paperback). Do note that the rental price may differ depending on the specific book format. If the textbook is eligible for Amazon prime, you should also see the familiar yellow check and blue text next to the item. In case you’re wondering what others have said about the book, you can also easily read the product’s reviews by clicking on its current star rating to the right.

Once you’ve double checked and have made sure that the book is indeed that one that you’d like to borrow, go ahead and click on its title; you will be brought to a page with more detailed information about the product. On there, you will be presented with more choices in terms of the book; to carry on with the rental, select “Rent” from the list of options. As soon as you do so, you should see the due date for the particular textbook—remember to write this down somewhere so that you won’t forget to return it back on time!

Afterwards, you’ll want to choose the state that you’re in from the dropdown menu on the right hand side. On top of where it says “Free Shipping”, you might see a price range for the textbook rental—this is mainly due to the fact that the amount may differ depending on your location. When you’re done selecting your shipping region, press “Add to Cart” to continue; you will then be prompted to log into your Amazon.com account (e.g. the same one that you use for regular purchases).

Any textbook added to your cart as a rental will go straight into its very own “Rental Cart”; it is also the next page that you’ll be transferred to after signing in. If you’re not done with your book renting or if you’d like to make some changes, you can do so by pressing the back button on your browser. If you’re done with your order, don’t skip through the “Rental Cart” page too fast though; it contains a lot of important information! For instance, it states where the book is coming from (e.g. Amazon warehouse, etc) and the fees for book extensions, should you find yourself needing to extend the rental afterwards. The due date (possibly the most important piece of information) is also shown in red beneath the title. Once you’ve triple checked to make sure you’ve selected and added the appropriate textbooks to your cart, press on the yellow “Proceed to Rental Checkout” button to go on to the payment section.

On the next page, you will want to be extra diligient to ensure that you’re typing in the correct shipping address—you want the textbooks to arrive at your home, not someone elses’ after all! As of right now, Amazon.com only ships their book rentals within the United States, but I’m sure most of you were already aware of that fact anyways! After you’ve inputed all the information, click on the “Ship to this address” button to proceed on with the next step of the order. Shortly afterwards, you will be brought to the payment screen. With Amazon.com, they accept almost all major debit and credit cards; if you have left over gift card balance, it can also be applied to your rental order. Once everything is good, press continue; don’t worry, you will be given a chance to review your items once again before everything is set!

How do I Return a Textbook to Amazon.com After I’m Done With It?

amazon5Don’t let the idea of having to return a textbook online scare you, it’s actually very straightforward. To begin the process of sending back the book to Amazon after you’re done with your final exams, simply login to your account and view your rental library by clicking on the “Your Textbook Rentals” link on your main page. After selecting the textbook(s) that you’d like to return from the following screen, click on “Return Books” —Amazon will then provide you with a prepaid shipping label, with which you will return your items with. Just print out the return label as well as the packaging slip, and slap it on the outside of the box (with the slip on the inside), after placing your books inside. After that, all you have to do is bring the packaged items to your local postal carrier office to be shipped—just make sure to do so before the due date!

Although it’s highly recommended that you set some sort of reminder for the book’s due date, Amazon realizes that sometimes it can be hard to keep track of such numbers on your calender; for this reason, they’ll also send you friendly email reminders as your textbooks begin to creep closer to when they’re due back at the warehouse. If you decide halfway through the rental period that you’d like to use the book for a longer length of time, you can easily opt for an extension—either for another 15 days or for another semester altogether. You will be charged an additional fee for extending your textbook should you decide to go for it. Likewise, if you’d like to buy off the book after havin rented it, you can purchase the item by navigating to your “Rental Library” through your account page—do note that you will only be able to buy the rental book after the initial 30 days of the period has elapsed.

Amazon’s Competitive Pricing

If you’re a college student who likes to save, renting your textbooks from Amazon is one of the best choices out there. By borrowing the books from them, you can save up to 80% on your class materials! Are you an Amazon Prime member? If so, you’re also eligible for free speedy shipping—how’s that for a good deal? If you’re not a member yet, don’t fret; you can easily sign up for Prime Student (it’ll just take a few minutes) and the best part of it is that you get all the same perks as a regular Prime user, and more! By signing up for Amazon’s Prime Student program, you get to enjoy six months of its Prime services for free; after the period is over, you’ll also be given 50% off the original price for Amazon Prime!

However even if you don’t count for the benefits of Prime, renting a textbook from the online giant is still a deal. Compared to what it’ll cost you to buy the book, renting the item only amounts to a small fraction of its list price. It’s not uncommon for you to save well over $100 for a single book, just by renting it! If you multiple those savings by the total amount of texts that you’ll be needing for the semester, well, that’s a lot of money to be saved!

Amazon.com’s Refund Policy for Textbook Rentals

 It’s not uncommon for someone to end up having to return an item after receiving it—textbooks are the same. Perhaps you’ve dropped your course or maybe your professor has decided that he won’t be using the book which he’d stated earlier to be mandatory; whatever the reason, Amazon allows easy returns of its textbooks within 30 days of the original purchase/order.

If you’ve made up your mind on refunding an item, you can do so by going to Amazon’s Returns Center. The process is simple! Following exactly the same procedrues as regular Amazon returns, you just have to print out a return label from their website, and stick it on the outside of the package (e.g. box containing the items which you’d like to send back for a refund). Once that’s done, all that’s left is for you to ship it out at a postal office at your convnience! If you’re wondering when you’ll receive your refund, it usually takes about 2-3 weeks for everything to be processed; once everything is good to go, your funds should be returned to you fully in approximately 3-5 days.

Amazon.com’s Customer Service and Support Team

amazon4 It’s not unreasonable at all for you to have questions! If you ever find yourself needing an answer to an inquiry, you can visit Amazon’s Help & Customer Service Desk. To access that part of the site, just click on the “Help” link at the bottom of Amazon.com. Once there, you’ll be able to browse through and search for some of the most commonly asked questions by users on the website. The help topics are also conveniently organized by categories to the left.

If by the off chance, you aren’t able to find your answers from the Help Desk, you can contact their devoted customer support team (something that the’re fairly well known for, may I add) by clicking on the “Contact Us” link at the bottom. Once you do, you will be transferred to the “Contact Us” page. From there, you can easily request for assistance from an Amazon staff member; just select the general category, which your question falls under and a brief summary of said issue/inquiry—someone on their team will then be happy to assist you with your questions!


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