Back in the dark ages, college students had to buy textbooks (often the newest editions), and had no option but to sell their used copies back to the university bookstore.
It doesn’t take a genius to know who got the better end of that deal. To get around the system you had to hope that you could borrow the text from the library, or cross your fingers that an older edition worked just as well.
These days, textbook rental companies have slashed the price of textbooks, and students can often find great deals on the textbooks they need. Amazon textbook rental is the leading textbook rental service, and generally comes with high recommendations (and low prices).
However, renting from the retail giant isn’t without its downfalls. We’ll explain when it makes sense to rent textbooks from Amazon and when you should look elsewhere.
Amazon Textbook Rental Basics
Renting a textbook through Amazon turns out to be a pretty easy process. First, you’ll go to the Amazon textbook rental page. The interface allows you to search by title, ISBN, or by category. Once you find the book you need, you simply check the price and add it to your rental cart.
Here are a few more details to know about renting a textbook through Amazon rentals.
How Long Do Rentals Last?
Rentals at Amazon are on a semester-long basis. Most student will be able to use the textbook through finals before initiating a return.
However, students can’t let the task of returning textbooks linger for too long. Depending on when your semester ends, you may have just two to three days to get the book back to Amazon.
Can I Get an Extension?
For a fee, students can get a 15-day extension on returning their textbooks. The fee varies based on the price of the book. If you can’t return the book within the 15-day window, you’ll be charged the full purchase price of the book (less any rental fees you’ve already paid).
Is Shipping Free?
Students with Amazon Student or Amazon Prime qualify for free two-day shipping on most rentals. All orders over $35 also offer free shipping. This is a really important perk because textbooks are heavy to ship, and shipping can drive up the costs.
What Happens If (the Book Is Late, Book Gets Damaged, Etc.)?
If you lose or damage a book (or the book isn’t returned on time), you’ll be charged the full buy-out price of the book. Not that you’re likely to want it, but Amazon will ship the book back to you if they determine it’s too damaged to use as a rental book.
How Do I Return a Textbook?
When you’re ready to return your textbook, you must open your Amazon account and navigate to the textbook rental section. You can select the books you want to return, and you’ll be able to print out a packing slip and a shipping label. Returning the books is free.
What’s the Return Policy?
In general, when you rent the book from Amazon, you must return it by the due date in the same condition you received it. If you fail to do that, you’ll be charged full price.
However, if you learn that you don’t need the textbook, you may qualify for a full refund. Students who return a book within 30 days of renting it receive a full refund. To get the refund, you must process the return through the returns center, not the textbook rental center.
Fine Print Warning: You Might Not Rent Everything You Need?
Although the Amazon rental center has fairly standard fine print, one area may cause problems for students. Amazon does not guarantee that textbooks will come with supplemental materials such as CDs, online access codes, or other related items.
Students should ask their professors if those supplementary materials are necessary for the class. If Amazon doesn’t include them, students should initiate a return within 30 days for a full refund.
Can You Find Better Deals?
Typically, Amazon has one of the lowest prices on textbook rentals (particularly given the option for free shipping and 30-day returns).
However, it always pays to shop for comparisons, especially if you’re squeezing every penny. This article compares the top textbook rental sites, so you can find the best deal on all your books.
Amazon Textbook Rental
Pricing - 90
Shipping Costs - 100
Return Policy - 100
Extras - 80
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.