In what could have a major negative impact on third-party sellers, Amazon is now allowing students to rent textbooks for a semester rather than buy them. The company had launched Kindle textbook rentals last year, but this weekend, third-party sellers on Amazon began noticing textbooks that advertised an option to rent the physical books.
Companies like Chegg and BookRenter have been around for several years and offer textbook rentals, and Alibris allows third-party sellers to rent their textbooks. But Amazon’s move into textbook rentals puts them head-to-head with their own third-party sellers.
Textbooks sales are critical for Amazon booksellers, and sales during the back-to-school shopping season make up a significant part of some sellers revenue. One seller who wrote to EcommerceBytes was dismayed and said the offering could kill sales for pure-play textbook sellers.
Amazon fulfills all textbook rentals, which are eligible for Prime and Super-Saver shipping offers. Amazon was listing one macroeconomics textbook for sale for $170.46 and offered it for rent for $45.75 with a due date of December 13, 2012 – a significant discount for cash-strapped students (and parents).
Chegg.com was offering the same book for rent for $57.99, with a due date of December 21, 2012.
Students can rent textbooks from Amazon for a semester (130 days), and can be extended if needed. Amazon offers free return shipping – “Simply print a prepaid shipping label and drop your book off at the nearest UPS or USPS location.”
This post was originally appeared on ‘Ecommerce Bytes’
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