With Amazon one of the biggest players entered the hot textbook rental market. Other than juggernaut Chegg whose focus is still on the classic printed textbooks, Amazon rents digital textbooks via the Kindle app and claims to save students up to 80% of the usual cost. Quite exactly one year ago Barnes and Noble introduced its NOOKStudy online reading and study platform for PC and Mac that offers savings of up to 60%.
Kindle Textbook Rental offers tens of thousands of textbooks and features adjustable rental length between 30 to 360 days with the option to either buy the book at any time or also extend the rental period by starting at one day, already.
A very cool feature of Kindle Textbook Rental is Whispersync which enables students to highlight text passages and take notes. Those are saved in the cloud and will stay there even when the rental expires. If the student then decides to rent the book again or to purchase it later, those notes and highlighted parts will be synchronized with the textbook again.
Another interesting feature is that Kindle textbooks can be accessed on a variety of devices via the Kindle app covering PCs and Macs, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android devices and as most students hold at least one of those devices there won’t be the need to invest into an extra gadget just to read and work with textbooks.
I am very curious if there will be a ditch in the market growth of Chegg and Bookrenter this year. With two big competitors like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, it seems to be inevitable that it will at least slow down. And there are of course Kno and Inkling which are also trying to grab market share with their iPad applications and digital textbooks. We will know more by the end of September.