Good News, Students: Amazon Intros Kindle Textbook Rentals

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We all know that college is expensive, and outside of convincing someone to marry you (which, according to our friends at Moneyland, can save you up to $80k in tuition costs), debt-ridden students need all the financial help they can get.

Today, Amazon announced a new textbook rental program that can help students save as much as 80% off a textbook’s list price.

(MORE: Dear Amazon, Here’s How You Should Sell Your Tablet)

Here’s how it works: Students can choose a rental length from as short as 30 days to as long as a full year. If they need a textbook for longer, they can pay day by day or choose to buy the book. Once rented, the textbook can be accessed from their Mac, PC, Kindle or smartphone, and any highlights or annotations will still be available to the student after the rental expires.

Obviously, this is great news for college students. Not only does it mean lighter book bags for all, but it’s also less of a dent on a student’s pocketbook and saves them the hassle of having to resell a textbook. Plus, another benefit of using digitized books is that students will theoretically be able to use the most current versions out.

I recently finished a graduate program at NYU where I had to lug around as many as three textbooks a day (most of which are still earmarked and collecting dust under my bed). Textbooks are constantly being revised and updated, which doesn’t bode well for students looking to sell them back: By the time their $150 textbook has outlived its usefulness, a newer version is already the standard, leaving them shorted. Had I had the option to use Kindle versions that could be accessed from a laptop while taking notes in class, I definitely would’ve used them.

Hopefully as this program progresses we’ll see even more economy introduced: I’d like to see the ability to rent out individual chapters at a time (plenty of professors just assign bits and piece). And maybe soon, we’ll see digital books introduced to public schools who simply don’t have enough textbooks to go around (which could be a hybrid with of Amazon’s library program they’re currently instituting).

Still, great news for college students, especially as Kindles are only getting more reasonably priced. Read the full press release after the jump.

Chris Gayomali is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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