Would you rent an eBook from Amazon?

If you bargain hunt, you can often find great price son eBooks — but many digital books sell for $9.99 or up and often cost nearly as much as print editions. If you plan to keep your eBooks around for a long time and read a book more than once, that price might seem reasonable. But if you’re the sort who likes to read a book once and never again, you might be looking for other options.

Amazon might just have one: Kindle book rentals.

Amazon Kindle Rental

Amazon

As Dave Zatz and @geekaren noticed, it looks like Amazon is testing eBook rentals on at least some fiction titles.

Theories of International Politics and Zombies is now available to purchase for $8.61 or to rent for $3.22 and up. There are options to rent for 30, 60, 90, or 120 days. If you need to extend your rental, you can always add some time and only pay the difference in price between, for example, a 30 and 60 day rental.

Technically this isn’t Amazon’s first foray into Kindle rentals. You can also rent textbooks from the company, which can save students a lot of money, given the high prices of textbooks.

Update: Amazon might just think this title is a textbook… it’s happened before. but it’d be nice if you really could rent fiction titles. Maybe someone at Amazon (and at publishing houses) will take notice. 

You can also “check out” many digital books from libraries around the US and read them on a Kindle or other eReader. But most of the digital library book systems use DRM to emulate the properties of real library books — so there may only be a few copies of each book available and you may have to wait in a long, long line before you can borrow popular books.

I had to wait a few months to get a copy of JK Rowling’s The Causal Vacancy for that reason, even though my library system has about two dozen digital licenses of that title.

I like the idea  of paying a lower rate for books I only plan to read once. What about you?

  • http://twitter.com/thDigitalReader Nate the great

    That title is published by Princeton Uni Press so I’d bet Amazon sees it as a textbook. And if you look at the category listings, this book is listed under political humor and nonfiction. That suggests it is not fiction so much as it is a satire of political textbooks.

    In any case, this situation has come up before with another non-obvious textbook:
    http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2011/12/01/amazon-expands-ebook-rentals-beyond-textbooks-maybe-not/

  • http://twitter.com/mikecane Mike Cane

    Yeah, that looks like a metadata error that a human needs to fix. Amazon would have sent out a huge press release if they were doing this.

  • zdanee

    I can get a second-hand book in good condition for less than $1. Most books (except very new releases) can be found like this. I love ebook and kindle, but ebooks are crazy expensive. Also for a regular book you have the expenses of the used materials, shipping and handling, storage and stuff. An e-book is a simple PDF, the one you would send to the publisher. How on Earth can they ask the same price (or even more!) for the digital copy?

  • andreas_1988

    As a student, absolutely and definitely. Some textbooks that we need aren’t available in the library, especially as PhDs are much more specialised that undergraduate degrees. Most of the time we only need one chapter of a book, or may end up buying a book and finding out that it isn’t actually all that good or useful to your particular problem. Seeing as these books are usually in excess of £150, we become reluctant to buy books that we think we might need. Not only do our studies suffer as a result, but once you realise that reading other people’s work and their explanations of certain aspects is key to the proliferation of knowledge and understanding, you also realize that scientific, technological, political etc. progress is held back by the high cost of learning from others. The world could solve many of its problems if the sharing of knowledge is made easier, and one way to make it easier is to reduce the cost of this learning. Rentals are a fantastic way to tackle this problem, as a student can learn from the book/textbook for however long they need, and only need to pay a fraction of the price for that knowledge. There is the added benefit that, unlike with fictional literature, academic textbooks can go out of date. Why spend £200 on a textbook if it will no longer be up to date in a few years’ time? I would imagine that the authors and publishers wouldn’t lose out that much either, as the lower costs would make the ebooks accessible to more readers, and the increased number of renters would compensate for the lower costs!

  • Sandeep

    Similar Kind or service is available in India on kopykitab.com where customers can rent the books for 3, 6 and 12 months.