Save money on college textbooks by using Kindle

by Grace

According to Amazon, students can save up to 80%  off the list price of  print textbooks by renting them using Kindle.  The books can also be read on your computer and mobile device.  This in particular seems important.

Keep your annotations: Access your notes and highlights anytime, even after the rental expires, at

When I did a quick check on the Amazon site, it appeared that the selection of rentable textbooks is limited.  But here’s an example showing how renting even one book each semester could save money.

Intermediate Accounting by Donald E. Kieso
Hardcover:                                     $195.99
Kindle Edition:                                $109.20
Kindle rental for one semester:        $62.56

You would recoup most of  the $139 Kindle price (Kindles cost from $114 to $379 depending on features) within one semester by saving $133 through renting this one textbook instead of using the hardcover edition.  Thereafter, either buying or renting one Kindle edition each semester could save a few hundred dollars each year.  Plus, you’d have the use of the Kindle for your other reading.

I’m interested!

More details in this Fastweb article, including this reminder.

Note: You do not have to own a Kindle in order to rent from the Kindle Textbook Rental program – just the Kindle app.

On the other hand, there is this from Debbie Stier at Perfect Score Project — Studies Show Students Prefer Print Books In Some Situations And E-Books In Others

Via Instapundit


15 Responses to “Save money on college textbooks by using Kindle”

  1. Believe me, I love my kindle (/saving all that money) every bit as much as the next student. In fact, I recently re-discovered it after selling my iPad on ebay (it had become a scary distraction gadget for me) — but when I’m reading a book “actively” — as I should be for school or to learn, or in my case, any non-fiction — I absolutely, positively need a pencil in my hand, and flags and a highlighter by my side.

    Yes, I realize the kindle has their version of highlights and flags and notes — and it’s possible this is a generational issue — but I don’t think so. I believe there is something about the pencil on the paper that makes connections happen in the brain. Call me crazy….but I *feel* it.

    I’ve referred to myself as a “book nut” before, and it’s because I have a serious book addiction. I often buy 2, 3 and 4 (yes, it’s true) copies of the SAME book. I usually start with a kindle edition (it’s instantaneous), and then if I like it, I buy a print copy (paperback, if it’s big, is my favorite format), and then, if I’m really into it and I have to leave the house and don’t want to put it down, I will also buy the audio edition too (and no, I can never line it up perfectly, so there is often overlap, but I’m ok with that).

    But here is the worst part:

    I have so many books that I often can’t find what I’ve already purchased/taken notes in, and so after I spend an hour (or more) looking for said marked up book, I give up in frustration and purchase that same again. I’m really trying not to do that anymore. In fact, one of my projects for the summer is to organize my books. I have started, and it’s extremely satisfying to know where your things are!


  2. I just wish I could get my students to buy any version of the book. I would never in a million years choose a textbook that costs $195 – that is just ridiculous – my assigned textbooks more typically cost $40 to $60. Our intro to CS book costs about $100, but we use it over two semesters. I give weekly quizzes over the assigned chapters, but the students still won’t buy the book – they just flunk the quizzes. I’ve talked to faculty at other schools who tell me it is the same way at their schools. And one of my friends who has a college-aged son tells me he never buys the book, that he wouldn’t even know what to do with a textbook. And then she wonders why his grades are so bad!


  3. LOL! You ARE a book nut, Debbie! But I get your point about having the value of having a print copy of a book, with the ability to have it stacked on your desk along with the other 3, 4 or more books that I’m using at the moment. Some of it must be generational, but there is that hand/brain thing that has been found to affect learning.


  4. Wow, BKM! I have read of students who are not buying all their textbooks, but their explanation is that their profs often use very little from the course text and so they’re trying to save money. Many of these books cost hundreds of dollars.

    I don’t know about you all, but I foresee e-books as predominating in all our schools within 5-10 years.


  5. Renting books only makes sense if you have no intention of ever looking at the book again—if once you’ve passed a course you plan to forget everything and never use the material again. Unfortunately, this is a very common attitude (see )

    The Kindle rental price is high. The particular book chosen as an example is a good example of edition churn, where publishers keep the prices high by making trivial changes every couple of years. Earlier editions of the book are available used for as little as $10. Faculty who are paying attention to textbook prices (most aren’t) will specify books that are available used at much lower prices, unless their course is so cutting-edge that no book over a year old is usable. (That’s happened to me once or twice in 29 years of being a professor.)

    I try to choose textbooks that will be useful as references in subsequent classes, so that students are not wasting money on a read-once (if ever) book. For some classes, most of the needed material is on-line, and I provide optional textbook recommendations those who prefer reading from paper.

    I can see e-books becoming a valuable way to deliver textbooks when middle-school students get all their textbooks electronically—the current stack of doorsteps middle-schoolers are expected to tote is ridiculous.


  6. Do middle schoolers use real textbooks? My son will be entering middle school in the fall. In his elementary school career, I honestly can’t remember him bringing home a textbook even once. Most of their work seemed to be in self-contained packets. I sometimes wonder if my college students confusion over textbooks is because they are expecting to get packets.


  7. From my own experience, there are some courses where I have learned something valuable but will never need to refer to the text again. From stories I hear of middle-aged folks finally chucking old textbooks, I’m sure that’s not uncommon.

    Also, the internet today makes so much information available that used to be constrained to textbooks.

    I just learned of this “bundling” feature, where students must buy a combo of book with online access and other items.

    After a few times of spending/wasting money on texts of which only a small percentage of the information contained was actually used in class, I can see how cash-strapped students would be reluctant to buy some text books.


  8. I intensely dislike this practice of students using teacher-created packets instead of textbooks, but I understand part of the problem is the challenge public schools face when trying to find quality texts that cover state-mandated curriculum. Our middle school uses real textbooks for most of the classes,


  9. LOL, yeah, they do here (I’m in CT). My daughter’s backpack was unreasonably heavy for a child to carry. I ended up purchasing a used copy of one book (HW was assigned from it most nights) last year and plan to do that for more courses this year.


  10. Yup, kcab, I did that also. Usually I selected the fattest, heaviest textbook and bought a copy to keep at home.


  11. I just took a survey aimed at faculty, from some book publisher, that had tons of questions concerning whether I planned to bundle the publisher’s online learning tool with the textbook for my classes. I entered “no”, “no”, and “no”. There is a good reason – in computer science, the texts either do not have an online learning tool, or the one that exists is so appallingly bad that it cannot be used. Studies of adoption rates of publisher online learning tools bear me out – they are not used by most faculty.

    I also tried to use the test question bank that was provided with the healthcare informatics text that I used last year. Oh boy, was that bad. Not only were the questions mainly over points of trivia in the text, but they contained so many mistakes that I had to hand edit most of them! I wonder if those test banks are all that bad. We usually don’t use test banks for straight computer science courses because the exams are usually problem-solving rather than multiple choice.


  12. Thanks for the tip! I’ll keep it in mind for this coming semester. In the past, I’ve bought my textbooks used online – it is usually cheaper than the kindle version anyway. Then I make most of my money back by selling them to the book buyback company


  13. It is good alternate of for college textbooks but all the students cannot buy the kindle. So I think students should buy used textbooks. It is easy to buy the used text books online and also they can sell back the books once the semester is over. Any way thanks for the tip.



%d bloggers like this: